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Salad Dressing Inspiration?

Salad Dressing Inspiration?
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  • Salad Dressing Inspiration?

    Post #1 - May 18th, 2009, 3:41 pm
    Post #1 - May 18th, 2009, 3:41 pm Post #1 - May 18th, 2009, 3:41 pm
    I need a salad dressing muse. I always make the same dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sometimes a little mustards, sometimes a chopped shallot, S&P, pinch of sugar. I really need to branch out. Anyone have any favorites? I'm looking for dressings that can be whipped up using ingredients from the average LTHer pantry (i.e. my pantry is relatively well stocked with a variety of oils, vinegars, mustards, etc...)
  • Post #2 - May 18th, 2009, 3:52 pm
    Post #2 - May 18th, 2009, 3:52 pm Post #2 - May 18th, 2009, 3:52 pm
    thaiobsessed wrote:I need a salad dressing muse. I always make the same dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sometimes a little mustards, sometimes a chopped shallot, S&P, pinch of sugar. I really need to branch out. Anyone have any favorites? I'm looking for dressings that can be whipped up using ingredients from the average LTHer pantry (i.e. my pantry is relatively well stocked with a variety of oils, vinegars, mustards, etc...)


    To me, the best salads are the ones that have flavorful, complementary greens. The purpose of the dressing, for me, is not to add flavor, but to accentuate the flavor that's in the leaves. With that purpose in mind, I rarely use anything but good olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and salt and pepper. Far from becoming monotonous, my salads still have plenty of variety because I alter the combination of leaves. Favorite recent combo: pea shoots, radish greens, and sorrel. Really, with intense greens like that, you don't want to mess around with fancy dressings.
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  • Post #3 - May 18th, 2009, 4:03 pm
    Post #3 - May 18th, 2009, 4:03 pm Post #3 - May 18th, 2009, 4:03 pm
    I'm always playing with variations on that theme. I don't know if those variations count as different enough from what you're already doing which is pretty much the core I work from.
    I look at whatever I'm dressing and decide on which oil seems most appropriate: olive (usually), or maybe walnut.
    Then the acid: red vin., balsamic, lemon juice, sherry vin, or cider vin.
    For spinach salads I'll ofte go with cider vin and bacon lardons for a sweet/sour result---sometimes mustard, sometimes not.
    Another way is walnut oil/sherry vin. Depends if I'm throwing in something sweet like orange segments or apple to the salad as well. If there's asparagus, I'll often stick to lemon juice and chive or chervil---again, mustard as a feel like.
    Then focus on a particular herb to give it a particular character (tarragon sometimes, thyme, basil, oreg., chive.)
    There's also the anchovy route---sometimes I like a nice strongly flavored dressing with garlic or anchovy, sometimes I like the dressing to just whisper around the salad ingredients if they're particularly fresh or delicate.

    Then you can enter the world of the "creamy dressings." I always have to turn to books or mom because I haven't fully absorbed those into my repertoire, but either a bit of yogurt or mayonaise can work a nice change on things. Especially if you're making the mayo (spicy mayo, asian inflected with wasabi or ginger, etc.)

    Then there are the various asian or faux asian dressings with sesame oil and a bit of soy/honey/ginger/garlic for a whole other profile.
    Case in point: today's lunch was some left over teriyaki marinated flank steak from the weekend sliced over spinach, julienned red bell pepper, asparagus, and tom. (Just what I had around.)
    Made up a dressing with some of the teriyaki components: sesame oil with canola oil, rice wine vin., honey, garlic, ginger, scallion, red pepper flakes, soy sauce. Just played with it till I liked it. (There were definitely some moments when it was not looking good.)
    In the end, delicious.
    Last edited by mrbarolo on May 18th, 2009, 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #4 - May 18th, 2009, 4:04 pm
    Post #4 - May 18th, 2009, 4:04 pm Post #4 - May 18th, 2009, 4:04 pm
    Hi!

    I agree with Kenny that if the greens are quite strong/bitter, simple is the way to go.

    My usual isn't much different from yours, though. My second choice is usually a tahini dressing. I don't use a recipe, but generally use tahini, lemon or lime juice, a bit of white wine or rice wine vinegar, garlic or shallot, a touch of mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Maybe a bit of honey. Good stuff.

    Another favorite is balsamic with blue cheese. Rather than just crumbling the blue cheese, I'll incorporate it into the dressing for something creamier than the usual balsamic vinaigrette.

    Ronna
  • Post #5 - May 18th, 2009, 4:07 pm
    Post #5 - May 18th, 2009, 4:07 pm Post #5 - May 18th, 2009, 4:07 pm
    I like to emulsify my dressings with my stick blender. The general recipe I use is 1 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1/2 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon brown sugar and salt and pepper. I also use different vinegars-champagne, white balsamic, red wine...
    And I almost always use some arugula in my salads. I love the peppery taste.
  • Post #6 - May 18th, 2009, 4:11 pm
    Post #6 - May 18th, 2009, 4:11 pm Post #6 - May 18th, 2009, 4:11 pm
    I tend to also play minimalist with dressing, but from time to time I substitute one of the main flavors with something else. Instead of adding salt to dressing, I like crumbling feta or another salty cheese into it or using a small spoon of dark miso. Or maybe I'll smash a handful of capers and use an extra spoon of their juice. Caper brine should be sold by the gallon.

    Mustard is almost always in my quick dressing, but swapping it for horseradish (go easy) or wasabi paste is tasty, especially on sweeter greens. Don't use balsamic with either tho, it ain't tasty. Or if you have some spicy radishes, grate one or two into the dressing on a microplane. My father likes a couple shots of Tabasco in his salad dressing, just enough to add something but not enough to make you think "Hmm...Tabasco!"

    Buy different peppercorns. Right now. Stop reading and get to The Spice House. If you change from standard black pepper to sichuan peppercorns, it makes a world of difference even if you keep everything else the same. I was amazed that my usual mustard/shallot/vinegar/olive oil/S&P transformed into something so completely different using sichuan peppercorns.
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  • Post #7 - May 18th, 2009, 4:16 pm
    Post #7 - May 18th, 2009, 4:16 pm Post #7 - May 18th, 2009, 4:16 pm
    Totally agree on the capers and brine. (My eight year old claims that his favorite food on earth is capers by the spoonful. Pizza comes second.)

    When it's just a pure greens salad and/or I've found a particularly delicious and fresh oil, I'll go total minimalist and just toss the greens in the oil---just enough to coat lightly---then sprinkle the vinegar or lemon over the coated greens and toss. Not even mix the dressing separately at all. Pinch of sald, dash of pepper or not. Done.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #8 - May 18th, 2009, 4:47 pm
    Post #8 - May 18th, 2009, 4:47 pm Post #8 - May 18th, 2009, 4:47 pm
    I'm a big fan of a simple buttermilk dressing (which is not really anything like those commercial "ranch" monstrosities.) It's basically a mixture of buttermilk and mayo with seasonings. Depending on how thick/rich you want it, you can vary from equal parts of both to 1 part mayo for every 3 parts buttermilk. (I prefer it more to the 50/50 ratio; my wife prefers more toward the 25/75 ratio, so I usually make it somewhere between.) Add to that salt, pepper and chives. You can also use different salts or other herbs or spices to mix it up a bit. I really like it made with smoked salt, but the dressing does turn out a bit greyish. I've also tried (and liked it) with green onions, minced garlic, paprika, parsley, chili garlic sauce or mustard...obviously not all at the same time.
  • Post #9 - May 18th, 2009, 5:16 pm
    Post #9 - May 18th, 2009, 5:16 pm Post #9 - May 18th, 2009, 5:16 pm
    A couple times recently, I've made the "spicy garlic French" from an old Good Housekeeping cookbook.

    It's sort of the "emtpy the bottoms of all the bottles in the fridge" recipe: To 1.25C oil and 1/2C cider vinegar (rather tart), it uses 3T chili sauce (don't have, I used ketchup), plus prepared mustard (I use a creole one), horseradish, fresh garlic (use a microplane for intense flavor), salt, sugar, black pepper.

    Very tasty, and the ketchup and mustard help emulsify the oil pretty well.
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  • Post #10 - May 18th, 2009, 5:37 pm
    Post #10 - May 18th, 2009, 5:37 pm Post #10 - May 18th, 2009, 5:37 pm
    You've described my standard salad dressing. I've recently started substituting in sherry vinegar and love it.

    Another idea is to add a hit of soy sauce instead of salt. It perks up dressings with an added funky layer. One of my favorites is grapefruit segments and arugula. For the dressing: 2TBS of olive oil, about 4 of grapefruit juice, a squeeze of lemon, pepper and dash of soy sauce.
  • Post #11 - May 19th, 2009, 1:19 am
    Post #11 - May 19th, 2009, 1:19 am Post #11 - May 19th, 2009, 1:19 am
    I like ponzu, fresh grated ginger, and a splash of rice wine vinegar on chilled spinach or mache, with or without a drop sesame or peanut oil. If my fresh ginger is looking a little wrinkly, sometimes I just use the brine from pickled sushi ginger.

    Another favorite is white balsamic or wine vinegar with lots of dill and oregano, olive oil, salt, lemon zest, and crumbled feta, on endive, iceberg, or romaine.

    A hot bacon (or other pan drippings) dressing can also hit the spot, and even wilt your greens a bit if you like that. Just deglaze a pan with some rendered pancetta, guanciale, bacon, Palacios chorizo, etc. with sherry and some vinegar and add some sugar, pepper, and rosemary, sage, or thyme. This is best used on big spinach, collards, or other robust greens that need a spanking (since I agree with Kenny that the smaller herbs and lettuces tend to speak for themselves best).

    Egg can also be your friend - I occasionally get out two serving bowls to which I add a very lightly coddled egg each. One gets grated cheese and pasta straight from the pot for carbonara; the other gets Worcestershire, olive oil, and lemon juice for a scratch Caesar, add garlic and anchovy to taste.

    Finally, a raita is fantastic for summer salads - yogurt plus toasted caraway and cumin, salt and pepper, a shake of garam masala, mint or cilantro if you have them fresh, well-chilled. Thinned, it's great on lettuces or cukes (don't let Wikipedia convince you cucumbers and yogurt are bad for your Ayurvedic balance).
  • Post #12 - May 19th, 2009, 8:41 am
    Post #12 - May 19th, 2009, 8:41 am Post #12 - May 19th, 2009, 8:41 am
    I like creamy dressings, and the salads I eat are basic(romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, shredded radish, shredded carrot, sliced onion, sliced green pepper, sliced cucumber, shredded cheese, and maybe some hardboiled egg, and chopped bacon). I like Russian dressing alot(for salad, and sandwiches)

    Just the basic Russian dressing recipe from the Joy of Cooking:

    Mayo
    chili sauce
    horseradish
    minced onion
    parsley
    wostershire
    salt
    black pepper
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  • Post #13 - May 19th, 2009, 10:17 am
    Post #13 - May 19th, 2009, 10:17 am Post #13 - May 19th, 2009, 10:17 am
    I've always been vaguely revolted by, and therefore ignored as a single unworthy category, all the neon-colored or gloppy white dressings from the diners of my youth---"french", catalina, ranch, 1000 island, russian. I never stopped to consider that they might have something legit and delicious somewhere in their evolutionary past. That Russian dressing recipe looks darned tasty. Can't wait to give it a try.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #14 - May 19th, 2009, 10:29 am
    Post #14 - May 19th, 2009, 10:29 am Post #14 - May 19th, 2009, 10:29 am
    mrbarolo wrote:I've always been vaguely revolted by, and therefore ignored as a single unworthy category, all the neon-colored or gloppy white dressings from the diners of my youth---"french", catalina, ranch, 1000 island, russian. I never stopped to consider that they might have something legit and delicious somewhere in their evolutionary past. That Russian dressing recipe looks darned tasty. Can't wait to give it a try.



    I was using the Russian dressing exclusevly for my reubens, corned beef, and pastrami sandwiches, however I had some left over, and enjoyed the zip it gave my basic salad(it might not work with some of the more exotic greens I see mentioned here). So now I make it on occasion even when there is no corned beef or pastrami in my future.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



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  • Post #15 - May 19th, 2009, 10:48 am
    Post #15 - May 19th, 2009, 10:48 am Post #15 - May 19th, 2009, 10:48 am
    One of my favorites is a Tarragon dressing that I use on the salad and also to marinade chicken paillards that I grill, slice and put on the salad.

    The main ingredients are minced garlic, dijon mustard, tarragon, lemon juice, balsamic, red pepper flakes, S+P, and EVOO. I don't remember where I first saw the exact recipe, but I think it was a Balthazar recipe.
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  • Post #16 - May 19th, 2009, 11:16 am
    Post #16 - May 19th, 2009, 11:16 am Post #16 - May 19th, 2009, 11:16 am
    REB wrote:Another favorite is balsamic with blue cheese. Rather than just crumbling the blue cheese, I'll incorporate it into the dressing for something creamier than the usual balsamic vinaigrette. Ronna


    This does sound tasty. I made dressing once in my entire life and want to start doing this more often since bottled ones are so sugary and full of salt and junk. For this recipe, is it just balsamic and blue blended til smooth?

    Also, how long can you keep dressings around? Thanks!
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  • Post #17 - May 19th, 2009, 12:38 pm
    Post #17 - May 19th, 2009, 12:38 pm Post #17 - May 19th, 2009, 12:38 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:
    REB wrote:Another favorite is balsamic with blue cheese. Rather than just crumbling the blue cheese, I'll incorporate it into the dressing for something creamier than the usual balsamic vinaigrette. Ronna


    This does sound tasty. I made dressing once in my entire life and want to start doing this more often since bottled ones are so sugary and full of salt and junk. For this recipe, is it just balsamic and blue blended til smooth?

    Also, how long can you keep dressings around? Thanks!
    I make my usual balsamic vinaigrette (similar to thaiobsessed's) and then incorporate the blue cheese. Yes, blending would be a good way. I often just shake the container and smoosh the cheese with a fork - - I like getting bites of blue cheese.

    I generally don't keep dressings around for more than a day or two, so perhaps someone else could provide a good answer.

    Ronna
  • Post #18 - May 19th, 2009, 8:00 pm
    Post #18 - May 19th, 2009, 8:00 pm Post #18 - May 19th, 2009, 8:00 pm
    My most recent favorite is basically a balsamic vinaigrette, with a bit of pomegranate molasses, garlic, and maybe some orange juice (once I had a bit of blood orange juice and used that, and it was FABULOUS). Add a bit of honey to temper the vinegar, if you want, or use walnut oil instead of olive.
  • Post #19 - May 20th, 2009, 9:36 am
    Post #19 - May 20th, 2009, 9:36 am Post #19 - May 20th, 2009, 9:36 am
    A few years ago, I saw an episode of a Jacques Pepin cooking show and he said that his mother used to make a simple salad dressing out of slightly whipped cream. In the episode, he mentioned that so many people count calories and often veer away from cream in favor of oils, while cream has something like 35 calories per TBSP and oil has about 135 calories per TBSP (not sure on the figures but you get the idea). This particular dressing is really light and best used with a "butter" or "bibb" type of delicate green.

    I've incorporated various herbs and sometimes microplaned garlic to add a little depth but it really is a nice, quick dressing. Be sure to whip a small amount of cream until it thickens but is not fully "whipped," - stir in a bit of vinegar and just toss with the greens.

    Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/p3mkuk

    I've never seen it before or since but it's one of those things that stuck in my head. Good luck.
    "It's not that I'm on commission, it's just I've sifted through a lot of stuff and it's not worth filling up on the bland when the extraordinary is within equidistant tasting distance." - David Lebovitz
  • Post #20 - May 20th, 2009, 10:11 am
    Post #20 - May 20th, 2009, 10:11 am Post #20 - May 20th, 2009, 10:11 am
    tyrus wrote:A few years ago, I saw an episode of a Jacques Pepin cooking show and he said that his mother used to make a simple salad dressing out of slightly whipped cream. In the episode, he mentioned that so many people count calories and often veer away from cream in favor of oils, while cream has something like 35 calories per TBSP and oil has about 135 calories per TBSP (not sure on the figures but you get the idea). This particular dressing is really light and best used with a "butter" or "bibb" type of delicate green.

    I've incorporated various herbs and sometimes microplaned garlic to add a little depth but it really is a nice, quick dressing. Be sure to whip a small amount of cream until it thickens but is not fully "whipped," - stir in a bit of vinegar and just toss with the greens.

    Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/p3mkuk

    I've never seen it before or since but it's one of those things that stuck in my head. Good luck.

    What a cool idea. I'm going to try that soon.
  • Post #21 - May 20th, 2009, 11:11 am
    Post #21 - May 20th, 2009, 11:11 am Post #21 - May 20th, 2009, 11:11 am
    how about a thai dressing? I often use this on leftover steak, but it's good on greens too:
    lime juice
    nam pla
    brown sugar or palm sugar
    thinly sliced shallots
    thinly sliced chilis
  • Post #22 - May 20th, 2009, 11:51 am
    Post #22 - May 20th, 2009, 11:51 am Post #22 - May 20th, 2009, 11:51 am
    One of my favorites is honey mustard made by taste from yogurt, honey, cidar vinagar(just a drop or two) and dijon mustard of choice.

    My all time favorite made from Vanilla & Fig Balsamic vinegar with just a small amount of evoo, salt and pepper. Very good on fruit salad too. The balsamic may be ordered from Temecula olive oil company of California which produces most of its own products.

    http://www.temeculaoliveoil.com/shop/pr ... ic_vinegar
  • Post #23 - May 20th, 2009, 12:11 pm
    Post #23 - May 20th, 2009, 12:11 pm Post #23 - May 20th, 2009, 12:11 pm
    In all of the ideas above that use balsamic vinegar, you might enjoy using a flavored balsamic. Our favorite is Fig Balsamic. If you find a good one, you will probably find yourself pouring a bit into the spoon and drinking it. Other flavors might work as well.

    For a simple dressing, try the Fig Balsamic, EVOO, lemon or lime, salt and pepper. If you like the minimalist approach to highlight the greens and such, you can spray it on to control the amount.

    You can also use flavored EVOO. Garlic works very nicely. That way, you can still spray, because you don't have the pieces of garlic to clog the spray.
  • Post #24 - May 20th, 2009, 1:23 pm
    Post #24 - May 20th, 2009, 1:23 pm Post #24 - May 20th, 2009, 1:23 pm
    I'll often do a southwesterny sort of salad (sliced grilled meat, red bell pepper, corn, black beans, red onion, cucumber, tomato, cilantro) and do a dressing with cider vinegar, lime juice, cumin, dried chili, oil (salt and pepper to taste)

    edited to add:
    Whoops! forgot that there is honey in the dressing.
    Last edited by leek on May 23rd, 2009, 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #25 - May 20th, 2009, 1:30 pm
    Post #25 - May 20th, 2009, 1:30 pm Post #25 - May 20th, 2009, 1:30 pm
    REB wrote:My second choice is usually a tahini dressing. I don't use a recipe, but generally use tahini, lemon or lime juice, a bit of white wine or rice wine vinegar, garlic or shallot, a touch of mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Maybe a bit of honey. Good stuff.


    I think this may be next on my list

    or this one:

    Santander wrote:I like ponzu, fresh grated ginger, and a splash of rice wine vinegar on chilled spinach or mache, with or without a drop sesame or peanut oil. If my fresh ginger is looking a little wrinkly, sometimes I just use the brine from pickled sushi ginger.


    Great ideas, everyone. Thanks. This should keep me busy for a while.
  • Post #26 - May 23rd, 2009, 3:59 pm
    Post #26 - May 23rd, 2009, 3:59 pm Post #26 - May 23rd, 2009, 3:59 pm
    while I had the smoker going anyway today, I decided I wanted some roasted garlic salad dressing. And if roasted garlic is good, smoked garlic is even bettter.


    smoked 2 heads of garlic in foil with some olive oil for about 1.45 hours. Squeezed them into the food processor, added, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. 1 tsp, thyme, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste.

    drizzled 6 tbsp olive oil as the mix came together in the food processor. Brilliant..

    cant wait to try it on my salad when the flavors meld.
    Last edited by jimswside on May 24th, 2009, 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #27 - May 23rd, 2009, 8:25 pm
    Post #27 - May 23rd, 2009, 8:25 pm Post #27 - May 23rd, 2009, 8:25 pm
    Ooooooo, now that sounds delicious. I MUST smoke me some garlic!
  • Post #28 - May 24th, 2009, 8:45 am
    Post #28 - May 24th, 2009, 8:45 am Post #28 - May 24th, 2009, 8:45 am
    smoked garlic dressing turned out great:

    garlic @ 1 hour on the smoker:
    Image


    dressing ingredients:
    Image

    finished dressing:
    Image

    this dressing will be on my regular rotation.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



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  • Post #29 - June 7th, 2009, 11:24 am
    Post #29 - June 7th, 2009, 11:24 am Post #29 - June 7th, 2009, 11:24 am
    REB wrote:Hi!
    My second choice is usually a tahini dressing. I don't use a recipe, but generally use tahini, lemon or lime juice, a bit of white wine or rice wine vinegar, garlic or shallot, a touch of mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Maybe a bit of honey. Good stuff.

    Ronna


    Inspired by Ronna's post and a really terrific special--Tilapia served spinach salad with watermelon and feta at Semiramis, I made this salad with Ronna's dressing recipe:

    Image

    Went great with grilled pork chop with carmelized onions. Thanks for the tip.
    Image
  • Post #30 - June 7th, 2009, 12:16 pm
    Post #30 - June 7th, 2009, 12:16 pm Post #30 - June 7th, 2009, 12:16 pm
    thaiobsessed wrote:
    REB wrote:Hi!
    My second choice is usually a tahini dressing. I don't use a recipe, but generally use tahini, lemon or lime juice, a bit of white wine or rice wine vinegar, garlic or shallot, a touch of mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Maybe a bit of honey. Good stuff.

    Ronna


    Inspired by Ronna's post and a really terrific special--Tilapia served spinach salad with watermelon and feta at Semiramis, I made this salad with Ronna's dressing recipe:

    Image

    Went great with grilled pork chop with carmelized onions. Thanks for the tip.
    Image
    The salad looks great! Glad my sorta-recipe worked out for you.

    If you like this dressing, a tasty twist is to add a bit of soy sauce and chives (inspired by Annie's Goddess dressing).

    Ronna

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