Decidedly Delicious Dressings for the Undecided Salad Lover [UPDATED]Published 8:51pm Wednesday, May 22, 2013 Updated 8:41am Thursday, May 23, 2013
I’m anxiously awaiting the return of summer salad season. Those days when the first baskets of our food share from the local CSA (community supported agriculture) are filled with cool weather crops – a variety of lettuces, radishes and the like. But given our late start on spring this year, I’m getting a jump on the season now and coming up with a few options to dress up those greens.
I was asked to bring a salad for a lunch meeting the other day. Technically, lunch was going to be pizza and I must have made some sort of “yucky face” when I was told because, I was asked “would you care to bring a salad?” Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza and I really don’t feel like I made “that face” but somehow I conveyed a message that said “let me bring along a salad” and so I did. It couldn’t just be a regular salad and a couple of bottles of dressing, me being me, I had to “chef” things up a bit. The salad itself was pretty standard, but I’m one of those multiple salad dressing folks – you know the kind who like french AND blue cheese dressing.
If you’re anything like me and are often undecided, or just like variety, when it comes to your salads, here’s a selection of three very easy salad dressings that you can put together in a matter of minutes. Try them all at one time, as most of the folks at our meeting did, or try them one at a time.
Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette Adding the oil while the food processor is running is what makes this a “creamy vinaigrette”
In a food processor, combine 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard. Process until the garlic is very finely minced. Add the juice of 1 lemon and 3-5 tablespoons of balsamic (or white balsamic vinegar) to make 1/2 cup of liquid. Turn on the processor and begin streaming 1 1/2 cups of very good fruity olive oil into the processor. Taste and adjust seasonings. This dressing may be a little too tart for some palates, so feel free to add a bit of sugar, honey or sweetener, if that suits you better. Makes 2 cups.
This vinaigrette could also be tossed with warm or cold pasta, rice or potatoes; used as a marinade for pork, chicken, seafood or beef; or could pair well with any of the herbs growing in your summer garden. Just chop and toss them in at the end.
The Ultimate Blue Ranch Combining two of most everyone’s favorites creates the ultimate salad dressing. This one is great on its own over a salad (0r as a dip for chicken wings) but pairs well with a nice juicy mid-rare steak too.
1 envelope of your favorite ranch dressing or dip mix
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
8 ounces of your favorite blue cheese, crumbled
1 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, depends on how thick you like your dressing
Combine ranch mix, sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, worcestershire and blue cheese in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add buttermilk until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Tastes best prepared a few hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve.
Anytime of the Year Citrus Vinaigrette A dressing that adds summer citrus punch to your salad anytime of the year because its ingredients are available year round, but it always tastes like summer to me. This dressing also works very well as a marinade for pork, chicken or seafood, especially if you are grilling them. I’ve also been known to toss it with fruit for a zesty take on a fruit salad or with pasta along with some briny olives and dried fruits.
In a medium sized bowl combine the zest and juices of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange. Add 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of very good fruity olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes approximately 2 cups.
This time of year, my tossed salads consist mostly of the following: romaine, mesclun greens, spinach, kale, grape or cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, celery, red pepper, red onion and english cucumbers. As summer approaches and local greens become available, we will switch up the greens and add in any seasonal veggies (such as early peas, local tomatoes, beet pickles, broccoli etc). You can put together just about any combination that suits your taste. These dressings will take whatever is in your salad bowl to the next level.
And if, like me, you have trouble deciding, make it a trio and try all three.
Jan Ellis runs a personal chef service based in Fergus Falls. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and is certified in food safety. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 218-731-6060. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JanEllisPersonalChef on Twitter @livelovelafcook or on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/livelovelafcook/