|A nice and simple four-ingredient 1000 Island.|
Ah, salad. Such a versatile dish. The options are endless and the ingredients can vary. In my opinion, one of the most important things going on a salad is the dressing. Hands down. You hear it all the time how a dressing can make or break your salad in the calorie and fat content world. But I don't care about that. (Well, maybe I do a little - I do have to set SOME limits to keep this figure of mine - cough, cough, wink, wink.) What I care about is flavor, fresh ingredients and my favorite of all - the word homemade. If you were to open my refrigerator, you won't find a store-bought dressing. I am a snob; an aficionado of salad dressings - a salad-dressing extraordinaire. And I'm not afraid to show it - or flaunt it.
I honestly don't remember a time growing up when we ate salad dressing out of a bottle. Maybe I suppressed the memory because of my dislike for it, I can't say for sure. But it is a fond memory having my grandma's renowned Blue Cheese dressing and a "house" dressing my parents used in their restaurant with a base of sour cream and garlic. As I grew older and my palette became more sophisticated, I started messing around with my own homemade dressings: vinaigrette's, flavorful ranches and Caesar dressings.
There are many reasons I became a snob. First and foremost, store-bought dressings don't taste good. Subtle is key and here's a brief list on why I don't think store dressings cut the cake:
- Too much vinegar
- Too much sugar
- Too much oil
- Too many ingredients I can't pronounce
Now for the good part: recipes from my own kitchen that frequent our weekly rotation.
(Perfect for just about any salad - or vegetable dip.)
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup mayo
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 small onion, grated
1 tsp fresh chives
1/2 tsp dill
1 tsp Italian parsley
Salt to taste
Stir in first three ingredients until smooth; add herbs and salt. Refrigerate.
(This is a staple and a great base for any dressing. Change up the vinegars for extra flare.)
Red wine vinegar
We've all heard of Warm Bacon Dressing, but this is a sweet dressing perfect for your fresh spinach salad this summer.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar (this is where you can add more if you like - or less)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Dry toast sesame seeds until brown. Cool. Combine all ingredients and shake in a jar. Add to spinach, sliced mushrooms, red onion, hard-boiled egg and butter-toasted almonds. Seriously, delicious.
(Thanks to my friend's mom who owns Mimi's Cafe in Halfway, Oregon)
2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dill weed
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1 cup tofu (Silken)
2 cup feta
3 cups buttermilk
Combine ingredients into a food processor except buttermilk. Blend for one minute. Running processor slowly, pour in buttermilk. As soon as dressing thickens, turn off and refrigerate.
(Serve with grilled kale or grilled romaine - or just toss with romaine for a traditional Caesar salad. Don't forget homemade croutons: bread cubes tossed with olive oil, herbs and S&P and bake at 350 for 10 minutes!)
6 tbsp each mayo and olive oil
1/4 cup each Dijon mustard and grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Worcestershire
3 Garlic cloves, minced
4-6 anchovy fillets, minced
Whisk together ingredients and add 1/4 cup water.
Equal parts mayo and ketchup
Dill pickles, minced
Combine and refrigerate.