Wednesday, January 14, 2009

do you make your own salad dressing?

wow! it is going to be 75 degrees in napa today...yes today...january 14th....middle of winter and all that. we have broken records all week...and, let me tell you, i am not complaining a bit. regular readers know i am truly a sun girl...a typical southern california native. i can take it a bit long as the sun is shining...but weeks and weeks of rain (which is normal for winter in napa) can get me down. so i am looking at this unusual weather as a gift...cause i know it will not last...and i know we do need the rain. the weather people say it will cool down this weekend so i am going to enjoy it while it on the porch...lots of walks with mose...rose pruning...even had a pedicure so i can wear flip-flops for a couple of days before the ugg boots make a reappearance.

the terrific weather has me thinking about my favorite foods...and my favorite way to cook...find the best if possible ingredients...and then don't mess them up with overly complicated recipes. i love them all year...and live by the mantra of "only in season...only local"...produce. (of course, i am so very fortunate to live in california where this is easy as we have terrific items growing year round). one of my pet peeves is when people buy truly great salad ingredients...and then dress them with horrible dressings filled with inferior ingredients and preservatives...when was the last time you read the label of most bottled dressings? is one of my 2009 objectives...convince each reader of this blog to eliminate bottled salad dressing from their pantries and only use homemade versions! (o.k. not comparable with a goal of attaining world peace but a girls gotta start somewhere...right?)
i have been writing this blog for almost a year now (where has the time gone?) and one of my favorite benefits is receiving all of the amazing emails from readers with comments, questions and/or information.... (for example...thank you to jenifer and leslie for your very kind emails today).... i often get questions about making homemade salad dressing because i have included numerous recipes for salads in past posts. many of my friends have told me they think it is "too hard" or "too complicated" to make their own i decided to give this topic its own story to encourage everyone to start creating their own dressing recipes...but here's the thing...the "technique" for making dressings and vinaigrette is so incredibly easy that it only requires 4 are my instructions.....

1. put your favorite vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar
2. screw on lid and shake away
3. add to salad
4. eat and enjoy

it really is that a mason jar at the market...even better and "greener"...reuse a jam/jelly or any other screw top jar. plan to make small quantities...just enough to use that night...or keep in the fridge a couple of longer, you want it to be as fresh as possible...keep the best-quality-you-can find/afford extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, mustard and seasonings in your pantry...and experiment with your oil to vinegar ratios. there really is no "wrong" is just a matter of personal preference. for example, most recipes call for 3-4 times oil to vinegar. i adore vinegar so my recipes are more 2-1..(for evoo and balsamic vinegar vinaigrette i use 50-50!) but that is me. the simplest recipe and the one i use the most is simply equal parts evoo and balsamic vinegar, with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. if i have a bit more time i use the following recipe..and i have a huge collection of vinegars so i sometime switch out the balsamic with red wine, champagne, sherry, rice or apple cider vinegar. i will continue to post different salad and dressing recipes in future blog get you are a couple of super easy options.

balsamic & mustard vinaigrette1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
place all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar. cover tightly and shake until well blended. store remaining vinaigrette in refrigerator. bring to room temperature before using to allow oil to mix with other ingredients.

meyer lemon vinaigrette
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar or sparkling wine vinegar
1 tsp meyer lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
try these on your favorite salads...dress lightly..toss..season..enjoy! and eat more salad....
do you already make your own salad dressings? if so, please share your recipes in the comments section of this post...and for those of you currently in the midwest or east coast of the usa (or any other place where temperatures are freezing right now)..stay warm and be safe....and let me know how you are doing....
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™
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LeLo said...

I couldn't agree more! I like a little honey in with my combo of blueberry basil vinegar, evo, dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Super yum. They taste so much better than the store bought ones!

Peace Thyme said...

Good morning from snowy Colorado. I have never used bottled dressing...well, not for the last 40 years anyway. I just mix my dressing in the bottom of my large wooden salad bowl (oh, yes, it is also old) each time I make salad and then put the salad ingredients on top and mix it all up with my hands. (Clean, most of the time.) Here it is:

2-4 T good EVOO
1-2 cloves garlic, smushed
salt and pepper to your taste
1/4 t mustard seed
1/4 t celery seed
1-3 T fresh lemon or lime juice
Beat with wisk till emulsified and you are done. No jar to wash.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi lelo..your dressing sounds delicious...the blueberry basil vinegar is brilliant. is it one of yours?

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi donna..and welcome..thank you for your recipe..the addition of mustard and celery seeds is really nice. can't wait to try...btw..secret..i frequently do the "mix it all up with my hands" thing too...shush!

pls visit and comment again..

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,
Dinner tonight was SALAD! Thank you for the encouragement. I made your lemon dressing. You are right, it was super easy and very good. We will be eating salad more often.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I like this site and your recipes is exactly because you take good basic ingredients and don't mess around with them.

I'm with you on this. What is buying salad dressing all about? I've tried Donna's method and it works a treat. I also just add a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon and freshly milled salt and pepper to the salad at the last moment - a little toss with the servers and you're ready.

PS I found a great recipe by "The Feast Within" for making your own mustard. I'd never thought about doing this before, but tried it and it was brilliant. You can play with all sorts of flavours too.

Anonymous said...

You guys win. I am throwing away my stock of bottled salad dressing. I will attempt to make my own. Do any of you have a good recipe for Ranch dressing?

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sally..tell me more about making your own mustard...i always wanted to try this too...

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I just discovered your blog and I love it. Congratulations on being listed by Martha Stewart - that's wonderful. I make my own vinaigrette and have for years. I shake mine in a jar also and if I am going on a trip and think I might make a salad, I have a "travel jar" I take with me but I'm weird like that. We even took our favorite knives to France because we weren't sure the house we rented would be equipped well. I really like your blog - I shall return.

Anonymous said...

Half a lemon, dinnerspoon of mustard, dinnerspoon of honey, walnutoil and ofcourse salt&pepper,

terrific, terrific.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sam,
i love the fact that you travel with mason jars and your knives...not weird at all...(said the person who packs evoo and grey salt when she travels!) :)
thanks for the comments...please do visit often.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

love the combo from anonymous...i love walnut oil too...thank you!