If you are just new to cooking, skip this post for the sake of your sanity. When some people find out I make all of my salad dressings homemade they look at me like I come from outer space. Who has time to make dinner, let alone their own salad dressings? Why make your own when Wishbone does a sufficient job? I didn't know you could make your own dressing!? Blank stares or laughs... These are my typical responses. However, making your own dressings are SO fun and easy to do!! Don't spend $2-$4 for a jar of salad dressing any longer. With a few helpful tricks I will teach you how to make your own. Not only are they MUCH less expensive to make, but they can make a side salad turn into something spectacular or with a few salad extras, it can turn a side salad into an amazing dinner! Not only are homemade dressings delicious but they are also MUCH healthier for you. You get the great taste of salad dressing without all of the preservatives, MSG, and hydrogenated oils. The possibilities of great salad dressings are endless! I wanted to share four of my all-time favorite salad dressing recipes with you to help you break out of the mold of store bought dressings. Here are a few tips:
*Store a few basic pantry 'must haves' to make dressing making easier.
*Buy items like soy sauce, cooking oil, olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar in BULK--once you start making your own dressings you will go through these basic items like water. You won't want to run to the store every time you make a new batch.
*Double, triple or quadruple the recipes. Homemade dressings will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge, so don't be shy about making extra to save time later during dinner.
*Learn to use dressings in a myriad of ways: great as marinades for flavorful meat, on salads, or even as dips.
*Store several different types of oils in your pantry/food storage that work well in dressings
*Purchase a hand wand blender to make emulsifying your dressings easy (or use a regular blender--just not as convenient)
*Experiment--have fun trying new dressing recipes until you get them just the way you want them. If you like more spicy dressings, use more cayenne, if you like sweeter dressings, add a little more sugar, etc. Have fun with new and exciting flavors!!
Okay..here are some basic rules of making dressings. Nearly every dressing is made with an OIL product and an ACIDIC product. The oil and the acid combination is what makes a great dressing. Most people like a dressing to be two parts oil to one part acid/vinegar. I however, like more vinegar than oil, so I usually do equal parts oil to vinegar or even slightly more vinegar. With that ratio in mind, the possibilities with these two ingredients are almost endless. Here are a few combinations that I have found work really well together.
*Mayonnaise with white or apple cider vinegar
*Olive oil with red wine vinegar
*Sesame oil with rice wine vinegar
*Canola oil with lemon juice, lime juice or balsamic vinegar
Once you find a good oil & vinegar combination you then begin to add other fun flavors and spices. Asian dressings will tend to have the ginger, sesame, soy sauce additions. Vinegarette dressings usually call for olive or cooking oil with red or white wine vinegars, etc. Most dressings also use an element of sugar--white sugar, brown sugar, honey, etc. Good seasonings will also help add flavor. Voila! You are a master-salad-dressing-maker. Now, eat up and enjoy!
Alright..if you don't want to experiment yourself, here are a few of my favorite concoctions :)
Creamy Poppyseed Dressing (tastes much better than Briana's $3.49 jar!)
1 T. poppyseeds
3/4 c. mayonnaise (this works great with no-fat or low fat mayo)
2/3 c. white vinegar
3 T. milk
1 1/2 T. grated yellow dried or fresh onion
1 1/2 t. salt
1 T. dry mustard
2/3 c. sugar
Cream together until smooth and well blended.
Asian Sesame Dressing
1/2 c. canola or vegetable oil
1/2 c. rice vinegar (or more if you like more kick--I do!)
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. fresh garlic, minced
3 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. white sugar
1 t. sesame seeds
Add all ingredients together and blend until smooth and the dressing begins to emulsify and become incorporated together. Once the dressing is well blended (hand wand works great), add the sesame seeds.
**This dressing is fabulous over noodles with cooked chicken, red bell peppers, green onions, sliced carrots, etc. for Sesame Noodles--yum!! Want a little Thai flair, add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and you have a great peanut sauce or marinade. It is also great in our recipe for Asian Chicken Pasta Salad I posted about last year. This dressing is also very similar to the dressing I use on my favorite salad--Golden Gate Salad. Pretty much I could drink this dressing it is so good-haha!
Honey Mustard Dressing
1/4 c. honey (a little more if you like your dressing more sweet)
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. lime juice
1/2 c. mayonnaise (low fat or no-fat work well again in this recipe)
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. paprika
1/2-1 t. ginger powder (or fresh grated)
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend together all ingredients and mix until smooth. If dressing is too thick, add a little milk until it becomes the right consistency for your salad. This works great as a dip as well for chicken, or use with our recipe for Smothered Chicken & Mashed Potatoes.
Sticky Wingers Chicken Salad--This sticky dressing will be a must-have in your fridge. This dressing works GREAT as a dip for chicken, in wraps, on salads and lasts for several weeks in your fridge. Delicious!!