June 19, 2010

What Accompanies My Favorite Season?

Salads are a perfect accompaniment to grilled meat. The dressings and toppings for the salads are as versatile as the marinades and seasonings for the meat. Salads are also great for a quick and easy meal or side dish. Not to mention the preparation won't add to the heat in the house as the weather warms up. Oh, and it is healthy especially if you eat the darker leafy greens.

Here is an example of one way I incorporated salad into a meal. Moo made some tri-color rigatoni for her and Bob for lunch over the weekend. I wanted something different than just plain pasta so I added some of the romaine and bok choy salad mix I had "made" the previous day, tomatoes, feta cheese and topped it with the balsamic dressing. It was a great combination in place of plain pasta or a traditional salad.

Recently I have eaten a couple salads at restaurants that had delicious blue cheese dressing. I wanted to make some to eat on my salads at home. I had several blue cheese dressing recipes bookmarked and settled on the one below because I had all the ingredients. I used the homemade mayonnaise I whipped up (literally). The dressing was everything I hoped it would be, creamy and blue cheesy.

Since PE does not like blue cheese dressing I made a balsamic dressing and a poppy seed dressing for him to eat (I think Moo will enjoy the poppy seed dressing as well). The balsamic dressing had a spectacular tangy flavor. The poppy seed dressing on the other hand is missing something but had a nice mild flavor.

Prior to making the dressings we were running pretty low so instead of eating what was in the refrigerator (PE and Moo could eat those) I decided to try my hand at some quick and easy vinaigrettes. I looked online and found that a 3 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio was the standard and I went from there. I combined rice wine vinegar and sesame oil one evening, rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil the next, and then balsamic vinegar and olive oil another evening. They were all wonderful. I simply measured 1 tsp oil and 3 tsp vinegar into a mini glass measuring cup stirred until combined and then poured on my salad.

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Blue Cheese Dressing I
adapted from Noble Pig
Print Recipe

1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp milk
juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 - 1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
kosher or sea salt

Place the sour cream, mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp milk, lemon juice, crushed garlic in a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake until combined. Add blue cheese and shake again. Season with kosher or sea salt. The consistency should be thick but pourable. Add more milk if the dressing is too thick. Refrigerate for one hour or up to three days. Remove 30 minutes before serving.

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Best Balsamic Dressing
adapted from RecipeZaar
Print Recipe

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sweet and spicy mustard
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT oil together in a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake jar until combined. Add oil to mixture and shake well.

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Poppy Seed Dressing I
from RecipeZaar
Print Recipe

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp poppy seeds

Combine first 4 ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake until combined. Add oil and shake again. Add poppy seeds.

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