Apr 6, 2012

Are You Dressing Your Salad Properly?

Salad Dressing
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Eating a fresh and healthy salad EVERY DAY, with a variety of ingredients, is a great way to keep you healthy, but are you dressing your salad properly? 

For years, too many people in Hawaii have been buying bottled dressings for their salads instead of making their own, so I say to myself, WHY? Well of course I know it's easier just to buy it already made but what is it doing to your body? Homemade salad dressings couldn't be easier to make, so stop paying huge prices for bottled dressings with too much sugar, salt, and chemicals in them that your body doesn't need. 

Mayonnaise is another popular condiment here in Hawaii, and elsewhere. As you know, it is commonly used on salads and other foods, unfortunately mayonnaise is highly fattening. Just one tablespoon contains between 50 - 100 calories and between 5 - 10 grams of fat. It is loaded with high amounts of preservatives, acids, modified starch and sugars. A better choice would be to make your own dressings at home using a good quality, extra virgin olive oil. It tastes good and it actually protects the heart and rids the body of bad cholesterol. If you start with olive oil you can't go wrong. 

Also remember that a good dressing should complement the salad, and not overpower it. If you go easy on the dressing, you'll lose the fat but not the flavor. You can keep your homemade salad dressings in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Here are some easy to make, homemade salad dressings to properly dress your salads... give them a try, and be healthy!

Mayonnaise Made At Home
2 whole eggs
10 fluid ounces of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of dry English mustard powder
1 crushed clove of garlic
salt and pepper

Place the eggs into the blender or food processor, along with the mustard, garlic, salt and pepper and blend together. Pour all of the oil into the blender in a steady stream whilst the machine is operating, so that it is immediately whisked into the egg yolk mixture. Switch off the machine and taste the mayonnaise. Add the vinegar and any extra seasoning to taste and whisk together one last time.
Cooks Note: For a blue cheese mayonnaise, add 8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese into the mayonnaise at the end and mix well. To make a spicy mayonnaise, increase the dry mustard powder to 2 teaspoons and add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco.

Ranch Dressing, Revisited
A lighter, less sweet version of bottled Ranch dressing.
⅓ cup buttermilk
⅓ cup homemade mayonnaise
⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt
½ teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons green onions (whites and greens) or chives, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a medium-small bowl and whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup.

Guacamole Salad Dressing
This dressing is great on sliced tomatoes, or on your favorite green salad, or try using it as a dip for shrimp. I like to skewer pieces cold imitation crab (surimi) and cooked shrimp and drizzle or brush this dressing over the top for a delicious appetizer. Another good thing is to put this dressing on top of mahi-mahi fish tacos... sooo goood!

2 ripe avocados, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put chopped avocado in a small bowl or food processor, and mash until smooth. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole dressing to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3 cups depending on the size of your avocados.
Note: Remember that much of this recipe is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

Japanese Style Salad Dressing
1 piece peeled ginger root
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a blender or food processor, purée until fairly smooth. Makes 6 servings.

Thai Salad Dressing
Juice of 4 limes
2 teaspoon fish sauce
4 cloves of garlic finely minced
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce (or more to taste)

Use a fork to whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Spoon over cold cooked mung bean noodles that have been topped with a mixture of chopped fresh romaine, red bell pepper, carrot, cucumber slivers and topped with mango slices and mint. Makes 2 servings.

Tuscan Italian Dressing
3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, or 3/4 teaspoon fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, or 3/4 teaspoon fresh
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

Place the mayonnaise, vinegar, water, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil, and black pepper into a blender. Blend for 2 minutes, then pour into a large jar, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Shake well before using. Makes 8 servings.

Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well until you have a creamy mixture, or use a blender. place dressing in a container and put into the refrigerator until ready to use. Shake well before each use. Makes about 1 cup.

Sweet Ginger Dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vinegar, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Serve over your favorite salad greens with fresh fruit, like sliced fresh pears.

Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette
1 small shallot coarsely chopped (or use 2 tablespoons chopped red onion)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or use 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In food processor or mini-processor use metal blade and chop shallot and thyme. Add olives, vinegar, and mustard and pulse until pureed. With machine going, slowly add olive oil through tube and continue to process until dressing is well emulsified. Serve with romaine lettuce with a healthy amount of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of dressing.

Basil Vinaigrette
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the basil, garlic, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until everything is mixed up and chopped into tiny bits. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture and process until emulsified. Serve on a bed of leaf lettuce with sliced tomatoes and shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

Creamy Mango Dressing
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped
(or 1 1/4 cups frozen mango cubes, thawed)
4 teaspoons nonfat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In blender, purée mango, yogurt, and vinegar until silky smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper and set aside until ready to serve over a fresh mango salad with baby spinach leaves, topped with thinly slices prosciutto. Makes 4 servings.

Papaya Dressing
1 firm-ripe papaya (10 to 12 oz), halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
chopped toasted macadamia nuts

Scrape seeds from papaya and coarsely chop enough seeds to measure 2 tablespoons. Discard remaining seeds, then peel papaya halves and slice. Press ginger in a fine-mesh sieve or a garlic press into a small bowl to extract juice (about 1 teaspoon), discarding pulp. Whisk in chopped papaya seeds, onion, tarragon, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Divide watercress and papaya slices among 4 plates and drizzle with dressing and top with chopped toasted macadamia nuts. Makes 4 servings.

Cucumber Feta Salad Dressing
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup drained feta (about 4 ounces), at room temperature
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small garlic clove, chopped and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Chop enough of cucumber to measure 1 cup and in a blender purée with feta, yogurt, and garlic until smooth. Transfer dressing to a bowl and season with pepper and salt. Chill dressing, covered, until cold, about 30 minutes. Serve with romaine lettuce or fresh baby spinach topped off with ripe red tomatoes. Makes about 1 cup.

Raspberry Salad Dressing
1 (10-ounce) jar seedless raspberry fruit spread or preserves
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Microwave raspberry spread in a microwave-safe bowl at LOW (30%) power 1 minute or until melted. Whisk in vinegar and olive oil until blended; let cool. Serve at room temperature. Makes about 2 cups.

Romaine Salad with Raspberry Dressing: Combine 1 head romaine lettuce, torn; 1 small red onion, sliced; 1 cup crumbled feta cheese; 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans; and 4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled. Serve with Raspberry Salad Dressing.

Honey French Dressing
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salad oil (I use canola oil)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder, or minced fresh onion
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, or minced fresh garlic

To make the dressing, mix all ingredients in a small bowl, or in a blender. Chill before using. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

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