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Donna Dulfer offered these timely recipes for salad dressings in July 2014.

Salad dressings

My go-to, no-fail, favorite vinaigrette is:

  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar (from the Blue Ridge Olive Oil store)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • Healthy pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Select a small glass jar with a tight lid to hold the dressing. Use a garlic press to mince the clove of garlic and place in the jar. Let the garlic sit for about 10 minutes so the allicin (the healthy component of garlic) is released. Next, add the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper; cover the jar tightly and shake. Voila, you have made delicious balsamic vinaigrette. Note: in this recipe the basic ratio of 3:1 was doubled to 6:2 (extra virgin olive oil to balsamic vinegar). The quality of the ingredients you use in your salad dressing does play a big part in the tastiness of the end product, so I recommend being particular about vinegars and oils.

By substituting lemon juice for the balsamic vinegar and adding a teaspoon of oregano to the spices, you can turn this into Greek vinaigrette that works wonderfully on a salad that contains Feta cheese, Kalamata olives, romaine lettuce and pepperoncini.

An equally easy mayonnaise-based dressing, which can be used on both salad greens and fruit salad, is poppy seed dressing. In this case, prepare the dressing in a bowl by whisking all the ingredients together. Combine:

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

A third popular dressing you can make at home is Caesar dressing. Many people avoid this because the standard recipe uses a raw egg. Here is an eggless version to try.

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Blend the ingredients in a blender or food processor and toss with romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and croutons.

Each of these recipes can be multiplied to make larger quantities.

Tips to reduce the amount of dressing needed to adequately coat your salad:

  • Tip One: Spin your salad. You probably have heard the saying, “oil and water don’t mix.” When your lettuce leaves are wet from being washed, the salad dressing will run right off, because the water repels the oils in the dressing. The dressing pools at the bottom of the bowl or plate, and we add more when it really isn’t needed. If you dry your lettuce by spinning or tossing with paper towels, you avoid this problem.
  • Tip Two: Toss your salad in big bowl and then plate it. Place your salad in a big bowl with plenty of room for movement. Add a minimal amount of dressing and toss, using tongs. Taste and decide if more salad dressing is needed. I find I use half the amount of dressing usually called for in a recipe when I do this.

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