2 April 2007

Dress that salad!

Hard to believe it but I used to eat salad dry. Yup, no dressing for me - remember I hate most condiments. Well at least the kinds you buy.

About two summers ago in a heat wave (well one hot day!) I made my usual plate salad. For me this is anything that I have left in the fridge and in it goes. So if I have some steamed veg, in. I might have some hard boiled eggs or left over bits of cheese - in. I also toss in some pasta usually small shapes that I can quickly cook on the hob in minutes without adding heat to the flat.

But we were stuck for dressings - no bottle in sight and J would not have this. I eat salad without mostly because I don't like mayo - most dressing have this in them. So off I trundle to cookbook shelf in search of something I can make that is easy and that I have the ingredients to hand. Up comes a gem of a recipe for maple dressing. Looked rather easy and with the heat looming it wasn't much of a bother either.

So that's how it began and we have since moved on to other delights. So I suppose I have to take it back that I hate condiments but I won't because I still do. I only like those that I make!

So what was the recipe you ask? Simple.

Maple Dressing

1 clove garlic (peeled and cut into quarters)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pepper to taste

In a jar combine all ingredients and shake well. Let stand for 3 hours to develop the flavours or overnight is even better. If you really like garlic up it to 2 or 3 cloves. If you can stand to keep it in the fridge for a few days the garlic is pickled (for lack of a better description) and is lovely on your salad - but not on the same day as you make it! Makes about 3/4 of a cup dressing.

This is a great dressing for most anything and it also is a good marinade too as I found out!

Parmesan dressing

1 clove garlic crushed or minced finely
juice of one lemon (throw in zest if you like too!)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 Parmesan cheese
pepper to taste

In a jar add the olive oil, vermouth, and lemon juice. Shake and then add your cheese and garlic. Shake again and season with pepper (you can add salt too but I find it doesn't need it) and let stand several hours or overnight for flavours to develop. This one again is better when it stands in the fridge for a day or two. This makes about a cup of dressing which for us lasts about 2-3 side salads.

Blue Cheese Dressing

2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons of sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Crumble cheese into bowl. Add sour cream and mayonnaise and stir until blended. Depending on the cheese and veining it can turn a light grey colour - don't worry - it will be lovely. This is enough to top two side salads or one large bowl.

Now, I can hear you all saying - but you hate mayo! I know I said I hate mayo but this dressing even for me is an exception (you will soon learn I'm full of contradictions and exceptions!) as I cannot taste it when mixed with the cream cheese. And if you are lucky to use Stilton then this too adds to the flavour. But I also only use Hellmanns as it is the only one I will tolerate all others are rubbish!

Next I'm going to try my hand at making Caesar dressing so I'll keep you posted but that's only if I don't keep finding blue cheese reduced! It seems since making this I find it now all the time! Makes like much more interesting as we have tried just about all of the major brands at a fraction of the cost.

So off you go - you know you have these ingredients in your larder. You now have no excuse - dress that salad!! Enjoy.

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