Downturn Dish: Put down the bottled dressing and step away from the salad

April 13, 2009

With summer on the way--it is, I promise!--you'll soon be able to capitalize on the season's cheapest staple: salad. Salads are never at the top of my list in winter, but I come around in May when the wool turtlenecks find their way to a box under my bed. Plus, since I have finally given up on bottled dressings, it gives me a chance to flex my seasoning and oil/vinegar muscles. Below are some of my favorite dressings, which are sure to make anyone a lettuce convert. I trust you to add your favorite nuts, fruits, proteins and veggies to make it a complete meal. Ginger Dressing (courtesy of Martha Stewart Everyday Food) Ingredients: 1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger 4 scallions, whites only Salt and pepper In a blender, combine scallion whites, oil, lime juice, carrot, ginger, and cup water; blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Citrus Honeybutter Dressing Ingredients: 1/4 tsp. lemon zest 1 tbsp. lemon juice 1 tbsp. honey 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/2 cup mayonnaise Salt and pepper Whisk together zest, lemon juice and honey until well combined; whisk in remaining ingredients. Mighty Miso Dressing (courtesy of chef Heidi Swanson) Ingredients: 2 tablespoons miso 1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard (or a bit of whatever mustard you have around) 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or honey or agave) 1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar 1/3 cup mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon pure toasted sesame oil (optional) Whisk the miso, mustard, and brown sugar together. Now whisk in the rice vinegar and keep whisking until it's smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and then the sesame oil. Two pinches of fine grain salt. Taste and make any adjustments if needed.