Well Dressed Greenery
"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." – Julia Child
Dropping to my knees I shoved an assortment of jars, bottles, and boxes out of the way and rummaged about in the back of the pantry until my fingers knocked over a long buried bottle. Faded though the label was from hiding for a year or two in the back corner of the pantry, the sell-by date boasted salad dressing freshness for two more months. A disconcertingly long area on the label entitled Ingredients caught my eye. Leading off the list was water, high fructose corn syrup, and soybean oil. Water was the number one ingredient? What surprised me more though, was the number of multi-syllabic words that might mean something to a food chemist, but not to a cook. The label assured me parenthetically that Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate were just there faithfully preserving the freshness so I could bury it in the pantry for a few years. Ok, but you can’t tell me Lactic Acid is in there for flavor. The length of this label, most of it distinctly Not Delicious Food, took me aback, so I emptied, rinsed, and thrust the offending bottle into the recycling bin.
Did you ever notice how stained and sticky the pages of a cookbook can get when they contain a much loved recipe? The pages of my favorite cookbook's salad dressing section remained perfectly pristine, proof as to my neglect. Well, no more. I would be like Julia and make good dressing from real food. The first vinaigrette recipe I found called for things like olive oil, vinegar, fresh lemon juice, garlic, cracked black pepper, and mustard. Not a single one called for water or assorted chemicals designed to make my dressing stay fresh for many years. So I tried mixing a single serving in a small bowl – a splash of olive oil, a smaller splash of vinegar, a twist of cracked black pepper, and a clove of garlic chopped fine. I spent a few pennies on the ingredients, made it in less than a minute, there was no need at all for Calcium Disodium EDTA, and it was wonderful.
Salad dressing recipes are simply a starting point – as are most recipes. Ignore all “rules” as you please. Experiment a bit and let your own personal taste buds lead the way, adjusting the proportions and ingredients as you see fit on that day. Try different types of oil, like a good fruity extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil. Try skipping oil altogether and add a squish of lemon, or a splash of infused vinegar.
Oil turns rancid with time and sunlight - and the oils used in dressing turns quickly, so purchase it in small bottles or you'll end up throwing a lot of it away. Keep olive oil at room temperature to maintain it's fluid nature. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (most typically used in salads) should last up to a year in a dark pantry. Light Olive Oil has a shorter shelf life due to sediments, and lasts only 3-6 months.
Eating well and reaching your caloric goal is so easy and fun with your friends at Calorie Count!
Have you tried making your own salad dressing? Look at the ingredient list of your favorite dressing. Did anything in the list surprise you? What sort of dressing do you put on your favorite salad? Have you tried adding dressing to your sandwich instead of your usual spread? Have a great dressing recipe for me to try? Send it here!