Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe Testers Club #103: Salad Dressing Primer

Making your own salad dressing is one way to save money and create exactly what you want. Here are a few examples of flavor combinations and easy methods that will make your salads extraordinary! Scroll to the bottom for Spicy Pecans to top your favorite salad.
Classic Vinaigrette
Makes 1⁄2c- enough to dress a salad for four to six servings
1 T red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 to 2 t Dijon mustard
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 T parsley, finely chopped
1 medium shallot (or scallion), minced
2 T olive oil
2 T canola oil
(or 4 T olive oil, or 4 T heavy cream)
1 T maple syrup
1 t finely chopped tarragon or fresh herb of your choice (optional)
2 garlic cloves (optional)
Food processor method:
Chop the shallots or scallions roughly. Do not mince the parsley or tarragon. Place all ingredients in the blender and pulse 5 to 6 times until blended.

Traditional method:
Pour the vinegar into a shallow soup plate and add the mustard, salt, pepper, parsley, and shallot (as well as tarragon, if using). Mix well with a fork.
Add the oil all at once. Keeping the tines of the fork flat against the bottom of the dish, mix well using a circular motion to emulsify the dressing.

Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves: 8-10
2 T Dijon mustard
4 T white wine vinegar
1 T packed brown sugar (light or dark) or honey or pure maple syrup
1⁄4 c olive oil
1 T chopped chives
1 t Cholula pepper sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
fresh ground pepper
In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and sugar or sweetener. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin stream whisking all the time.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the chives, pepper sauce and garlic. Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.
For a real treat, drizzle some on roasted asparagus. The dressing may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Warm Port Vinaigrette
Serving: 3 cups
3 shallots, minced
21⁄2 c extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 c port
1⁄4 c balsamic vinegar
21⁄2 T honey
2 T fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
 Place the shallots in a skillet, pour the oil over them, and heat over medium-high heat until it starts to sizzle. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes; remove from heat.Whisk port, vinegar, honey, and lemon juice together. Whisk in the hot shallot and oil mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is an excellent dressing for a salad of greens and sliced pears, sprinkled with Roquefort. It may be used immediately, or stored for later use, covered in the refrigerator. It is best used within a week. When ready to serve, heat the desired amount until it comes to a simmer, and then pour over the salad.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Creamy and flavorful, the dry ingredients in the mixture can be combined and stored for later use.
8 low sodium, saltine type crackers
1 c dried parsley
¼ c dried onion flakes
1 T dried dill
2 T onion salt
2 T garlic granules
2 T onion powder
2 T garlic powder
2 t ground black pepper
(to make dressing you’ll need 1 c mayo and 1 c buttermilk also)
In a food processor puree crackers to a fine powder. Add the parsley, onion and dill. Pulse to almost dust. Pour into a bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well. This recipe is easily multiplied and keeps well for up to 1 year in an airtight container.
To make dressing Add 2 heaping T's to 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup mayo. Mix well and serve.

Cajun Spiced Pecans
Great for topping a soup or serving on a salad.
1 lb pecan halves
1/4 c melted butter
1 T chili powder
1 t salt
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 t ground cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a shallow baking dish. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir and reduce heat to 250 degrees. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

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