Fresh Dressing on Fresh Produce: It’s a Natural
As a home cook I never had the urge to buy bottled dressing. Making dressing is so easy; create endless variations from your pantry and fridge
Cookshare is all about home-meals foods built around the purposeful use of good quality condiments. We buy those we can not easily make, but whenever we can fashion our own from simple, good quality ingredients—that is our gift back to our table. It is always good to have on hand three or more salad dressings. Arrange to set aside some time on your calendar for a dressing making session. Not only are the results superior to any store-bought variety, but the rhythm of adding scratch foods to your pantry is renewal cooking at its core.
The simplest rule of dressing is: 3-4 parts oil to 1 part acid; salt, and pepper. Everything beyond that is free form: make it creamy, herbaceous, sweet, or spicy—it’s your oyster to open.
You can dedicate a pint jar, with a mark or tape at the line to add the oil and then the acid. Now you almost have an instant dressing cruet.
Sometimes I whisk a dressing right in the bottom of the salad bowl, toss in the greens and top with the salad fixings.
Here are a few of my favorites.
CLASSIC FRENCH VINAIGRETTE: 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1 tsp Dijon mustard. Shake all in a jar. Add chives, or garlic, fresh minced herbs as desired
TOASTED CASHEW DRESSING: There is a flavor triangulation among soy sauce, cashews, and balsamic vinegar: umami bombs away!
Photo: TL: Finished dressing; TR: Toasted cashew; MR: Trio of cashews, tamarind, and balsamic; BL: Tossed Greens; BR: My favorite with blue cheese
INGREDIENTS: Buy cashew pieces, they’re less expensive and what we need. Use a sieve and screen the smaller bits out of the mix before toasting. Preheat a dry skillet under medium-low heat. Add the large cashew pieces and stir/shake often until the edges begin to brown. Then add those smaller bits to the skillet near the end so they don’t burn. It’s important to develop toasted spots for best flavor.
- cashews – 2/3 cup, pieces or roughly chopped
- tamari – 2 TBS, or soy sauce
- olive oil – 3/4 cup
- balsamic vinegar – 1/4 cup
- pepper – 1/2 tsp
- mayo – 2 tsp
- Pre-heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat
- Toast the cashews, tossing them every 30 seconds or so, until toasted edges occur; don’t leave your station; it’s done in a few minutes
- Pulse the cashews in a food processor to create a variety of sizes
- Combine all in a jar and shake
Delightful Salad: Baby spinach [or arugula] and iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, blue cheese, fennel bulb, minced scallion tops or chives, and a fresh herb garnish
GREEK VINAIGRETTE: Combining fresh lemon juice and red wine vinegar with oregano is the glory that is Greece.
This is a marinade bomb for grilling chicken, pork or tofu. Use a zipper bag and allow 2-4 hours marination time. Make souvlaki, Greece’s claim to fame in grilled foods nested atop a fresh salad
INGREDIENTS: Bottled versions use bottled lemon juice, and thus the dressing is not bright
- lemon – 1, with 1 TBS zest and 2 TBS juice
- red wine vinegar – 2 TBS
- garlic – 1 clove, minced or pressed
- salt – 1/2 tsp
- pepper – 1/8 tsp
- mayonnaise – 1 tsp
- olive oil – 3/4 cup
- oregano – 2 tsp, [fresh if possible, minced, or 1 tsp dried, Greek variety if possible]
Add all to a pint jar and shake well.
HELM’S EURASIAN DRESSING: This beauty was developed atop an picnic cooler in a motel room with a handful of traveling condiments. CLASSIC!
- garlic – 4 tsp, (4 cloves), mash & mince [or use pestle & mortar to make into a paste]
- olive oil – 3/4 cup, quality counts
- rice vinegar – 6 TBS
- soy sauce – 5 tsp
- ginger juice – 5 tsp, squeezed from freshly grated ginger root
Combine all in a 1 pint jar, shake well and taste to correct seasoning
UME PLUM DRESSING: an ancient condiment, ume plum vinegar is salty-sour and plays a perfect foible for a woozier dressing. Great as a dressing on slaws, grain [Barley Confetti Salad below] and pasta salads.
- olive oil – 2/3 cup
- salt – 1 tsp
- pepper – 1/2 tsp
- mint, fresh – 1/4 cup, minced, or other fresh herbs
- lime zest – 4 tsp, grated
- lime juice – 4 TBS, or lemon
- ume plum vinegar – 1/4 cup
Place all in a jar and shake well.
- lemon – 1, 1 tsp zest, 2 TBS juice
- salt – 1/4 tsp
- pepper – 1/4 tsp
- yogurt – plain, 3 TBS
- olive oil – 1 TBS
- tarragon – 2 TBS, minced [or other herb]
Caesar’s Dressing and Dip