Monday, June 4, 2012

Homemade Dressings- the basics and five recipes

Olive oil, white balsamic, salt, pepper, herbs

Convenience is, well, convenient.  Only sometimes the most convenient thing is not really what you think it is, and sometimes other considerations simply trump this one uber- American criteria. Take dressings for instance.  Pull just about any dressing of the shelf at the grocery store and you find a crazy long list of ingredients, many of them mysterious to most of us. For a bit more money, the dressings kept in the refrigerated section tend to have fewer ingredients including preservatives, and fewer of them are unrecognizable.  But for us, it's all homemade.  (The one exception is a jar of refrigerated ranch dressing I bought for my July Fourth Potato Salad a couple of years ago. ) In under a minute a great tasting balsamic, red wine vinegar, or mustard seed and tarragon dressing can be put together and ready to serve.
Olive Oil and Sherry Vinegar-waiting for balsamic to be added
Homemade dressings can be fun to make, save on glass and plastic, taste great, and are bound to be way better for you.   They can also save you money depending on what dressings you are buying now, how much you tend to actually use up before you have to toss 'em out, and how fancy you get with your ingredients. Having grown up with a family 'fridge that was always jam packed (this cannot be overstated) with dozens of purchased dressings and condiments, I'll attest that homemade dressing can save you some serious space as well.  I also think they can be beautiful.  The photos above are taken just prior to the ingredients being shaken together. 

Olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to go over a salad of romaine, radish, feta, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Olive oil, vinegar, dried basil, oregano and crushed garlic
All the dressings use some form of acid, be it citrus or vinegar.  We use close to equal portions of oil and vinegar, but about 1/3 acid to oil is best for most dressings and taste buds. Check out two of our favorite oils and vinegars here. Check out Erin's recipe for homemade strawberry vinaigrette here.

As for convenience, all of the above are super fast and easy.  A few of my favorite homemade dressings take as much as 5 minutes to put together, and one needs to sit for ten.  In addition to being absolutely delicious, these slightly more involved dressings are just as handy to have in your back pocket.  Here's are a few that I've posted earlier... my favorite vegetarian CaesarCreamy Basil Dressing, and honey mustard.

The fresh taste, flexibility, simply ingredients, and yes, I'll have to say convenience, of being able to whip up a tasty dressing in no time flat makes this one of the easiest ways to cut preservatives, sugars, and Omega 6 high vegetable seed oils out of your diet.

In addition to all their other culinary uses these items are great to have on hand for many quick, delicious dressings...
Oils: Olive, sesame, grape seed, walnut.
Vinegars: Balsalmic, white balsamic, red wine, orange champagne
Dijon Mustard
Mustard Seed
fresh garlic
powered garlic
Dried Herbs (love Penzey's herbs and spices) , course salt, fresh ground pepper, dried onion
jams, or preserves
Parmesan cheese
pickles or relish

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! I eat salads every night need to get in the habit of making my own salads