This is the most common way restaurants cook vegetables; it can be done to nearly any vegetable. Do not be scared by this. It is easy and awesome. To blanch means to put a vegetable in rapidly boiling salted water until it’s just cooked, usually only one or two minutes — you will know because your mouth will know when you taste one — then immediately stick it in ice water to stop the cooking. It is an essential basic technique of cooking that you should master ASAP.
You know when you’re at an Italian restaurant and there’s a bowl of olive oil with a little floating pool of balsamic vinegar in it for you to dip your bread in? That’s basically salad dressing that hasn’t been whisked. Once you know the basics, you can truly make any salad dressing recipe, and the basics are:
• The ratio is more or less 1 part acid to 3 parts oil. Acid means vinegar or lemon juice, usually.
• You start with acid then whisk in oil.
1. Start with a large bowl or a jar with a lid.* The bowl should be large because whisking in a small bowl is stupid and annoying and you will have to whisk pretty hard to get the dressing to emulsify/thicken.
2. Then start with an acid. The acid can be lemon juice or lime juice or a combination of citrus juices. You can use vinegar instead or in addition to citrus — white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice vinegar, or sherry vinegar will give you a nicer flavor than just straight white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, which are kind of harsh.
Measure the amount of acid you use because you will want to use three times that amount when you measure your oil. Remember if you use vinegar + citrus it still needs to be a third of the oil amount.
3. Slowly whisk in olive oil as a tiny drizzle. So if you use one spoonful of lemon juice, use three spoonfuls of oil. If you used 1/4 cup of lemon juice and/or vinegar, use 3/4 cup olive oil.
If you’re using a jar with a lid you can just unceremoniously add the oil all at once and screw on the lid and shake. If you are making this in a blender, same thing. (Blenders are especially awesome when you have stuff like shallots or garlic in a salad dressing because they get pulverized and taste great.)
4. Add lots of kosher salad and pepper to taste.
(Once you’ve graduated from the basics: If you want to add other flavors, add them to the vinegar or lemon juice before you add any oil. SO — minced shallot, minced garlic, minced ginger, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce, fish sauce, whatever, put any or all of these in the bowl with your acid in whatever amount you think will taste good. Another great ingredient to add to your acid before you add oil is mustard because it does double duty: Mustard adds flavor but it is also a great emulsifier, meaning it will help the oil and acid blend and thicken into a proper dressing. Herbs can kind of go in whenever.)
Follow this basic recipe. Other good basic ones are this lemon-vinaigrette recipe and everything over here, and Cooking Light has good step-by-step photos.