After the holiday indulgences, many resolve to make fresher, healthier eating choices. Salads can be a great option for eating a rainbow array of fresh vegetables. Unfortunately, what goes on top of the salad, the dressing, can often undo those “healthy” endeavors.
Bottled salad dressings and dry envelope packets for dressings, while simple, and perhaps even flavorful, aren’t always the best choices either. Clearly, we need healthier options for moistening the veggies and boosting flavor. Moistening…not drowning. And here we identify another trap…the overuse of dressing. While some think that if a little is good, more is better, that isn’t really the case. Using dressing to toss a salad lightly before going to the table or individual serving bowls, can assist in the temptation to overdue on the dressing. If further restriction is needed, it is surprising how dipping (not scooping) the fork in dressing before taking a forkful of salad can provide flavor without overindulgence. Not everyone needs this option…but it is an option.
I tend to make olive oil and vinegar based dressings, perked up with spices from my cupboard, including dry mustard which helps the dressing emulsify. Busy as my schedule is, I often make the dressings last minute, which could be costing us a bit of flavor…but that’s what it is. Of course, using olive oil means that if I make the dressing ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator, it will thicken and congeal, so after refrigeration, it’s easiest to use, if it sets out for a couple of hours. Making the dressing a few hours ahead of time and leaving it at room temperature also works well. Using a blender, whisk or a bottle to vigorously shake the dressing, allows the ingredients to mix together better.
You can look for salad dressing recipes online or in cookbooks, but beware of adding ingredients that have been pre-bottled with chemical additives, as you’ll be defeating your purpose. Cutting down the amount of oil, sour cream, or yogurt in the recipe may be options for you too. And when adding sweeteners, experiment with adding less while still satisfying your palate. For best flavor, make sure the dried spices in your cupboard are fresh.
Becoming aware of basic ingredients that you like together, may even make you more adventurous in experimenting on your own. That’s what happened with Gracine recently. Rather than making one of our Italian favorites, she started with a little of this, a little of that and a few other things. Everyone enjoyed it so much that she made up a recipe and agreed to share it with you. Enjoy those salads!
Gracine’s Salad Dressing Recipe:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsps White Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tbsps Water
- 1 Tbsp Plain Yogurt
- 1 tsp Spicy Mustard
- 3 Tbsps Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- ¼ tsp Dried Parsley Flakes
Blend, shake or whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Use dressing immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for future use.
Makes about ½ cup of salad dressing.