Scratch-made salad dressing allows season’s top flavors

Besides the added freshness that comes from homemade, it’s also lighter on the wallet

Akron (Ohio)Beacon JournalJune 5, 2013 

Making a homemade salad dressing is not difficult, and the fresh taste always is worth the small effort required.

Chef Mark Kent, an instructor at the University of Akron’s School of Hospitality Management, said making salad dressing from scratch is one of the first techniques budding chefs learn when they begin their classes.

“It’s an extremely simple process,” he said, noting that a basic vinaigrette is simply two parts oil whisked into one part vinegar, with the seasonings of your choice added.

Kent said most students are surprised at how easy it is, and most have never made it before.

“Most just grabbed the bottle; that’s how they grew up,” he said.

In addition to freshness, Kent said it’s more economical to make your own salad dressing.

“You can control what goes in it and make it as healthy as you want. From a health standpoint and also a cost standpoint, it’s worth it for two to three minutes of work at the most,” he said.

But perhaps even more than cost savings or healthful eating, flavor is the biggest boost that comes from making a dressing from scratch. Bottled dressings can have chemical preservatives that affect their taste, something that isn’t a concern with a fresh dressing.

Making a dressing from scratch encourages a cook to be creative and to work with the flavors of the current season. Change the herbs and spices added to a dressing, and you can change its flavor profile to become Italian, French, Asian or Middle Eastern to fit the salad ingredients being dressed.

As Kent points out, beyond the basics of oil and vinegar in a vinaigrette, “you are wide open to what you can do with it.”

RED WINE VINAIGRETTE

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 ounces red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs

6 ounces olive oil

Add garlic and mustard to bowl. Measure in vinegar. Add salt, sugar and pepper. Whisk ingredients together until salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in fresh herbs.

Whisk in oil in a steady stream until well blended. Adjust seasoning to taste for salt and pepper. TAHINI DRESSING

cup tahini sauce, well stirred (sesame paste)

cup water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth or blend together in a blender. CREAMY TARRAGON DRESSING 1/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Whisk together first six ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk in oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in green onion and tarragon.

Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days. Let chilled dressing stand 30 minutes before using. CREAMY GORGONZOLA DRESSING 3/4 cup mayonnaise (not “salad dressing” such as Miracle Whip)

1/4 cup sour cream

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

With a rubber spatula, blend mayonnaise and sour cream together well. Add garlic and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Lemon juice will thin mixture.

Add parsley, chives and cheese and stir well to combine, but making sure that cheese stays chunky. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Note: To thin dressing further, add additional lemon juice, up to 1 tablespoon more. How to make a red wine vinaigrette salad dressing

1. Start by adding garlic and mustard to a bowl.

2. Measure the vinegar.

3. Add salt, sugar and pepper.

4. Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.

5. Add fresh herbs.

6. Whisk in the oil.

Makes about 11/4 cups Source: Lisa Abraham Makes about 1 cup Source: Adapted from epicurious.com Makes about 3/4 cup Source: myrecipes.com Makes about 2 cups Source: Lisa Abraham

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