Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recreate and Make it Better: Salad Dressings

One of the foods that I see people eat a great deal of is salad dressing. Over greens, in sandwiches, or as a dip salad dressing is a simple sauce of infinite variety. Many bottled dressings have ingredients in them that help to preserve them but don’t do much for your body or your taste buds. If you love salad, a great way to get more “pure” is to make a small batch of your own salad dressing. Everything you put in it will be something recognizable and nothing need be artificial. Try your own and you’ll soon recognize that some favorite bottled varieties taste off—artificially sweet, salty or just plain chemically.

If you love Italian dressings, try a Viniagrette:
3oz olive or vegetable oil
1 oz apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried herb like basil, thyme or oregano or a mixture of the three.
Combine mustard and vinegar in a small bowl and slowly whisk in oil. Sauce will thicken as oil is added. Stir in remaining ingredients. Alternately, placed all ingredients in a jar. Close the lid and shake to combine. OK to store at room temperature.

The recipe can be doubled and varied using different types of oils and vinegars and different herbs. If using fresh herbs, triple the quantity to 1 1/2 teaspoons or more.

If you love Ranch dressing, try Buttermilk Herb dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon each dried dill, basil and oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar, close with the lid and shake to combine. Allow dressing to sit for a bit so that the dried herbs can re-hydrate into the liquid. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, use 1/2 cup milk and 1 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar to substitute. Store in refrigerator.

If you love Blue Cheese dressing, try a Homemade Chunky Blue Cheese version:
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup milk (low fat OK)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
optional: a few dashes of hot sauce or 1/2 teaspoon horseradish or even some crumbled crispy bacon (only the real thing please—your taste buds will thank you).

Combine sour cream, milk, vinegar and oil in a small bowl. Fold in blue cheese and remaining ingredients. This is delicious on salads, with hot wings or as a vegetable dip. Refrigerate leftovers.

We are inspired to make salad when really fresh ingredients are on hand. By using salad dressings made from real ingredients the salad retains its best quality- pure flavor. It will be hard to go back to bottled once you taste these and see how easy they are to whip up from things you already have on hand.