Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Salad Dressing!

I'm sick of looking for sugar-free salad dressings. It takes too long to read all of those tiny ingredients, and I don't like to buy the same dressing twice because I like variety. I can do all my grocery shopping in less than 30 minutes, unless I am shopping for salad dressing. Then I can expect to be an extra 15 minutes. Also, I have not found one brand that I can count on to be sugar-free. Some of Annie's dressings are sugar-free but not all of them, some of Newman's dressings are sugar-free but not all of them, and so on. I realize that if I made my own salad dressings, I wouldn't be faced with this problem, but I have not found a way to keep my homemade dressings from going bad right away.

Yesterday I found the answer. I recently signed up with a local CSA and last weekend brought home a gigantic bag of produce and herbs. I made a huge salad with different lettuce greens, tomatillos, lemon cucumber and a bunch of fresh basil. Frustrated at my lack of salad dressing on hand, I debated pouring olive oil on my salad. Maybe a splash of balsamic vinegar. For some reason, though, that just didn't sound appetizing and my salad looked really appetizing. "I'll try the salad plain," I thought.

I took a huge forkful of lettuce, a piece of cucumber, a leaf of basil and a slice of tomatillo. My senses went berserk. I have never had such a rush of fresh flavors--and all unspoiled by dressing. I thought I might miss the added moist texture that dressing adds, but I got that sensation from the fresh and juicy cucumbers. Every bite of the salad was heaven.

What's funny is that I had never before considered eating a salad without dressing. I've always considered dressing a salad ingredient!

So, without delay, go get some fresh salad greens and vegetables. Throw them together and add fresh basil, thyme, marjoram, etc. The flavor will knock you out!


jennconspiracy said...

It is so easy to make your own salad dressing!

You can do it in a jar with a tight lid, or in the blender.

One of my favorites (I gotta do a blog post on salad dressings) is to throw all this stuff in a shaker:

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed in one of those little contraptions & lightly sauteed to soften

1-2 Tb brown mustard (the kind that is all seeds) or toast up some brown mustard seeds and crush

fresh or dried tarragon (or herbs of your choice)

vinegar of your choice (I love infused vinegar - fig/meyer lemon is a favorite, but plain balsamic, malt or rice vinegar are all good, too), a Tb or two of white miso paste, olive oil ... shake shake shake! Taste - add salt, pepper, more vinegar or olive oil or any other spices.

Another dressing that is good is to toast up a chipotle pepper in the oven, let it cool then pulverize the heck out of it in the herb grinder. Put it in a mini-chopper or blender with some sundried tomatoes, olive oil, roasted garlic, black pepper, a pinch of salt, pumpkin seed oil, toasted pumpkin seeds and rice or white wine vinegar - whirr and add vinegar/oil/water until you have the consistency you want.

Then there's ground sumac berries, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil and thyme...

Salad dressing is the most fun place to experiment -- you add little bits of things at a time, taste and you can correct your mistakes by adding more vinegar or olive oil or water. :)

My Year Without said...

Thanks for the suggestions! Those loose recipes don't look too intimidating...and they look delicious! I'll see how long I can go without using dressing (which means my salad has to be REALLY good!) but I will tinker around with these recipes when I am craving dressing again.

ThriftyCook said...

Great Blog! I love that you are looking into moving away from refined sugars and into more natural options.
We have far to much sugar in our diets and consider it a "staple" instead of a luxury!
Im a honey girl all the way, thanks for your comment on my blog, I sure wont be doing THIS for a year!

ThriftyCook said...

Hey, Great Blog!
Excellent to be moving to more natural forms of sweetener, and seeing how much sugar is in items we would not normally guess (e.g. ANY packaged sauce)

I certainly won't be doing my $80 a month diet for a year! Good for you!

jennconspiracy said...

I usually make up five salads for the week's lunches...

Anonymous said...

My staple dressing is a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinching of dried herbs (such as oregano, basil, parsley). Shake them all up in a air-tight container and voila! It takes literally 1 minute to make, especially since I keep a pre-mixed container of the dried herbs specifically for my dressings).

My Year Without said...

I love the idea of using dried herbs. That sounds like a great way to spice an olive oil and vinegar mix. Can't wait to try it!