Sunday, July 17, 2011

Salad Dressings 101

       It was so hot and humid Saturday that when Vanilla and I stepped out for a walk, I felt like I was moving through cotton. Afterwards I was starving, but only for a cool, crisp, crunchy salad.  Luckily, homemade salad dressings are so easy to make and so tasty that eating a salad is a yummy option and not a sacrifice!

The Acids: Vinegar and Citrus

Basic Salad Dressing
-1/2 cup of an oil (olive, canola, or mayonnaise)
-1/4 cup of an acid (vinegar or citrus juice)
-Seasoning (1/2 teaspoon salt,1/4 teaspoon pepper,1/8 teaspoon garlic powder)

    For salad dressings I usually use light olive oil so the other flavors come through - unless you have a wonderful bottle of imported extra virgin olive oil from Spain, and you want it to be "The Star of the Show"!  Apple cider vinegar is a good pick if the salad includes fruit or the main dish is pork.  Rice wine vinegar works well with Asian flavors.  Likewise, balsamic vinegar is very Italian.  On a regular day, I just follow the above recipe using red wine vinegar - however, there are endless variations on this basic recipe.  Here are three that are Yates favorites.

Jenn's Favorite Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

This is a sunny little dressing that is great on a package of baby spinach leaves with some thin sliced red onions, 2 sliced avocados sprinkled with lemon juice, 3 clementines peeled and separated, 1/2 cup of toasted pecan pieces.

Allison's Favorite Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
a handful of fresh basil, washed and chopped (stems removed)
1/2 diced yellow onion

Delicious poured over cooked new red potatoes! It makes a great summer potato salad.

Caroline's Quick and Easy Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup raspberry jam ( I like to use Smucker's no sugar added or Simply Fruit)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
several green onions, sliced thin

This makes a  yummy raspberry chicken salad.  I double the recipe and put half aside for dressing the completed salad.  I brush the rest on chicken breasts and grill or bake them.  To mixed greens I add fresh raspberries, walnuts, thin slices of purple onion, and either blue or goat cheese.  I slice the cooked chicken breasts and put them on top of the salad.  Then sprinkle a few green onion slices on top and pass the raspberry vinegrette dressing.  You can make individual salads or one large one on a huge platter - very impressive!

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