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Archive for the ‘Creamy Dressings’ Category

I was making lunches early in the morning, and I knew I wanted a straightforward, no frills, very basic blue cheese dressing over a super crunchy salad. Something my grandmother would have enjoyed — familiar, simple, and tasty.

I grabbed romaine lettuce, carrots, celery for crunch, as well as italian flat leaf parsley and red onion for flavor, and I got to work.

Ingredients for Recipe for Creamy Blue Cheese Salad with Crunchy Vegetables

Ingredients, ready for action.

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
4 baby carrots, cut into wheels.
1 rib of celery, coarsely chopped.
2 slices of red onion, quartered.
1/2 english cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
1 fistful of fresh italian parsley.
2 T blue cheese, crumbled.
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste.

Blue Cheese Red Wine Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 T red wine vinegar.
1 T sour cream.
1 T blue cheese.
1/2 clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

Since I was making two salads, I doubled all of the ingredients listed above. I mixed up two jars of blue cheese red wine vinaigrette, and then I started chopping. I began by creating my beds of chopped romaine hearts, and then I added the carrots, celery, onion, and parsley. I crumbled the blue cheese and sprinkled it on top of the salad, before cracking black pepper over it all.

I nestled my husband’s salad dressing jar in the larger glass container with the salad and popped the lid on top to keep everything fresh for lunchtime. I tucked mine in the fridge for later.

Recipe for Creamy Blue Cheese Salad with Crunchy Vegetables

Packed to go!


The Verdict:
This turned out exactly as I intended. Very creamy, savory salad dressing and powerfully crunchy veggies. Celery is highly underrated — I really appreciated it’s crisp flavor with the blue cheese. I think this salad was a bit boring for my husband, but as he always says, my worst homemade salad is always far tastier than anything he can get from a quick lunch restaurant near his work.

Make it a Meal:
Done. If you want to amp up the protein, add some chicken breast, or deli meat, or kidney beans.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

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I love a good ranch salad dressing, and I don’t have go-to recipe for it like I do with vinaigrettes and citronettes. You’ve seen my experiment with buttermilk ranch vinaigrette. This time, some leftover homemade sour cream veggie dip* looked like the perfect addition to the pseudo-chef’s salad I was planning for lunch.

I bemoaned the absence of romaine or green leaf lettuce because I love their crunch with creamy dressings and deli meat. Instead, I made do with some mixed baby greens I had on hand. Then I grabbed the ham, turkey, cucumber, radishes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and scallions — all ingredients that work really well for me with ranch dressing. I added tarragon and savory for extra flavor. And I got to chopping.

Ingredients for Recipe for Salad with Sour Cream Ranch Dressing, Deli Meat, Cucumber, Radishes, and Cherry Tomatoes

The ingredients, ready for action!

Ingredients:
(Serves one as a meal.)
4 cups of mixed baby greens.
1/4 cucumber, quartered and sliced.
2 large mushrooms, halved and sliced.
3 baby carrots, sliced.
3 radishes, quartered.
3 cherry tomatoes, left whole. If serving instantly, slice in half.
1 scallion, sliced.
3 thin slices of red onion, quartered.
2 slices of honey ham, sliced.
2 slices of turkey, crumbled.
2 sprigs of tarragon, chopped.
2 savory leaves, chopped.

Sour Cream Ranch Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
2 T sour cream ranch veggie dip.*
1 T rice wine vinegar.
1/2 clove garlic, smashed and minced.
1/4 tsp maple syrup.
A pinch of salt, to taste.

I was making two salads for lunch, so I doubled all of the ingredients listed above, including the salad dressing. I mixed the ranch dressing in a small jar, tasting as I went to make sure I liked the flavors. It looked like a lot of dressing (I thought it would easily work for three salads), so I put some of my husband’s serving into my jar, which would be staying at home in our fridge. I thought we could enjoy it later.

With the sour cream ranch dressing mixed up, I started chopping veggies and adding them to the two beds of lush baby greens I’d built. The bowls filled up fast! I left the cherry tomatoes whole so that they would travel well. I nestled the dressing jar in the glass container for my husband before popping the red rubber lid on it. Mine just went into the fridge for lunch time.

Recipe for Salad with Sour Cream Ranch Dressing, Deli Meat, Cucuber, Radishes, and Cherry Tomatoes

Two salads, prepped and ready to eat. All they need is that delicious dressing drizzled over them...


The Verdict:
Yummy! This was the creamiest dressing I’ve ever made, and due to the inclusion of the sour cream dip, it had a really nice depth of flavor. I used every drop of the dressing I set aside for myself. (Remember, I thought I had enough for two salads? Wrong.) My poor husband texted me at lunch time to tell me that he loved it, and he’d never worked so hard to get every drop of dressing out of the jar before… Moral of the story? Really thick, creamy dressings don’t spread as well as light vinaigrettes. Or we just both adore lots of good, sour cream ranch deliciousness with our crunchy cucumber, radish, and carrot bites.

This salad was really filling. I didn’t mind the softness of the baby greens as much as I thought I might, though I still think romaine or green leaf lettuce or even a very fresh iceberg would be a better match for the creamy salad dressing. It was still tasty, and I ate every bite. In fact, I was so hungry and it was so good that I didn’t realized I’d failed to snap a picture of it fully dressed until after I’d devoured every last bit. Oops… I will have to continue experimenting with ranch so you get more pictures of creamy delectability.

Make it a Meal:
Done. For a veggie version, skip the deli meat and toss in your favorite beans or some cheddar cheese.

Pack it to Go:
Done.

*Ingredients for Sour Cream Veggie Dip
1 cup sour cream.
1 sprig of tarragon, finely chopped.
1 scallion, very finely chopped.
Dash of rice wine vinegar.
Pinch of garlic powder, to taste.
Pinch of smoked paprika, to taste.
Pinch of Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute, to taste.
Pinch of salt, to taste.
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.

My husband whipped this up on the fly. Combine and sample and tinker with the ingredients until it pleases you. We went heavy on the garlic powder and light on the smoked paprika.

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This is an easy classic salad. I usually make it as a side dish for a special dinner, but it was lunchtime, and I wanted something light but extra tasty.

Ingredients for Salad with Blue Cheese, Apple, and Candied Pecans

Simple ingredients, ready to be transformed.

Ingredients:
(Lunch salad, serves one as a meal.)
1 hearts of romaine, chopped.
1/4 cup of candied pecans.
1/2 apple, quartered, cored, and chopped.
1 scallions, chopped.
1 1/2 T blue cheese, crumbled.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
3 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1 T blue cheese.
Pinch of salt, to taste.

I was feeding two of us, so I gathered doubled the ingredients above. I like this salad lightly dressed, so I didn’t bother making two batches of dressing — one jar worked perfectly for two salads.

I mixed up the vinaigrette first, so the flavors would meld, and then I chopped my salad ingredients. First, I built a crispy bed of romaine, and sprinkled the nuts and cheese over the top. I put crumbled blue cheese into the salad as well as in the vinaigrette because I love the creaminess it adds to the dressing, but I don’t want to sacrifice the tasty clumps that you get when you put it directly into the salad. It’s a win-win to have it both places. Then I chopped the scallions and the apple and added them to the salad. I drizzled the vinaigrette, tossed, and enjoyed.

Salad with Blue Cheese, Apple, and Candied Pecans

Luscious. Delicious. Ready to be devoured.

The Verdict:
I always love this salad. Sometimes I use pear instead of apple. Sometimes I use arugula. Sometimes I go for the mixed greens. Regardless, the crunchy nuts and the clean fruit work perfectly with the creamy, tangy blue cheese. I really enjoyed the super crunch of this one, with the crispy apple and the fresh romaine. I tossed the scallions in on a whim, and decided they were irrelevant. They didn’t detract or add, they were just there. I probably won’t bother with them next time, but if you really love a little extra onion crunch, go for it.

Make it a Meal:
Done.

Pack it to Go:
The apple needs to be packed in the jar with the dressing so that it doesn’t brown. Keep the rest of the salad ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel container, and combine the dressing with the salad when you’re ready to fork toss and eat.

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I was making curried chicken with potatoes and basmati rice for dinner, and I decided to get creative. I knew I wanted a salad with a creamy dressing to help me tolerate the heat of the spicy curry. Riffing on the idea of raita, I wanted a yogurt salad dressing with lots of cucumber and mint. My plan was to turn that into a flavor base for a rich veggie salad. I pulled out all the vegetables that seemed like they might work, and I tossed in an avocado. I grabbed the cilantro on a whim, and then turned to the spice cupboard. I wanted something to round it out, and to capture a little of the delicious complexity of actual Indian food. I sniffed every jar we had of powdered yumminess from Vik’s Chaat Corner, and finally found what I needed. Fennel powder. My secret ingredient.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Simple veggie ingredients, ready for chopping.


Salad with Kefire Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

A gorgeous green bed of romaine and arugula.

Ingredients:
(Side salad, serves four.)
1 heart of romaine, chopped.
3-4 cups of arugula.
1 red bell pepper, sliced.
1 avocado, quartered and sliced.
6 mushrooms, quartered.
1/3 of an english cucumber, quartered and sliced.
1 small shallot, chopped.
1 large fistful of mint, chopped.
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Tossed and ready to serve!

Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder:
(Use only what you need. Refrigerate extra for a couple of days.)
1 T plain kefir.
1 T rice wine vinegar.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1/4 tsp fennel powder.

I mixed up the dressing first, playing with it and testing it as I worked by dipping leaves into the jar and tasting. I chopped my romaine and made my bed of greens, gently finger tossing the arugula with the romaine. I sliced, quartered, and chopped all of the vegetables and herbs, adding them while monitoring the curry and listening for the rice timer.

The Verdict:
This salad was amazing. It worked perfectly with the curry. It’s obviously not even remotely authentic Indian cuisine, but it was seriously delicious. My husband was really impressed by the unusual flavors. The creamy dressing clung to the greens, and the variety of fresh vegetables was refreshing and fun alongside the simple, hearty curry. The kids all enjoyed it as well — I thought it would be too weird for them, so we barely had enough to share.

Salad with Kefir Rice Wine Vinaigrette with Fennel Powder

Isn't it lovely on the plate with the curried chicken and potatoes?

Make it a Meal:
I think it could work as a meal as it is, but if you need more protein, I recommend adding simple chicken or garbanzo beans.

Pack it to Go:
.As always, but the avocado in with the dressing and give it a gentle shake to coat it with the acidic vinaigrette to prevent browning. Keep the dressing in a small jar, and all the rest of the salad ingredients in a large container (I recommend glass or stainless steel with a tupperware style lid). When you’re ready to eat, shake up the jar of dressing and drizzle it over the salad. Use only what you need. Fork toss, or put the lid back on the large container and give it a few good shakes to combine. Enjoy.

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Going for a quick run this morning left me no time for salad prep before my husband left for work. He wasn’t fazed — he fends for himself with ease. But not doing the prep for him meant I didn’t do it at all until it was lunchtime. Luckily, I had my mother-in-law over in the morning to work with my kids, so I wound up with more time to play in the kitchen while also being a lot more awake — I was making salad at 11:30 AM instead of before 8:00 AM. Inspired by a small jar of homemade bacon bits (leftover from the kids Carbonara lunch yesterday) I decided to try my hand, once again, at making a ranch dressing that I actually like.

Playing with Buttermilke Ranch Vinaigrette

Salad ingredients, gathered together and ready to prep.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
1/2 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 mushrooms, quartered.
1 carrot, sliced.
1/4 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
1/2 apple, quartered and sliced widthwise.
1/2 avocado, quartered and sliced.
1 scallions, sliced.
1/8 cup of crispy bacon, crumbled.

Buttermilk Ranch Vinaigrette, Take One:
(Use what you need, refrigerate any extra and use it within a few days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
2 T buttermilk.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 small clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 generous pinch of salt, to taste.

I doubled the salad ingredients listed above and assembled them in two separate bowls, one for my mother-in-law, and one for me. I mixed up one batch of the dressing, since I like to go light with creamy dressings, and then I started chopping. It took a while, since I also had french toast and grilled cheese on the stove for the kids, but eventually both bowls were full of salad. I made sure to cut the avocado right before serving, so it would be lovely and green when we ate it.

Playing with Buttermilk Ranch Vinaigrette, Ceramic Bowl

Here is one of the finished salads, in a kidmade ceramic bowl.

The Verdict:
Not exactly ranch dressing, but damn tasty. It’s hard to go wrong with bacon and avocado. I wanted to mix arugula in as well, since I tend to like salads with a little more green in them and I only had one lonely heart of romaine left, but my arugula had gone slimy. Trader Joe’s is great for candied walnuts. Not so good for fresh produce. I think that was actually for the best though, since the romaine worked really well with the creamy dressing. Arugula would’ve been a bit too peppery and strong, I think. I loved the apple, bacon, avocado, carrots, mushrooms… Okay, I really liked everything about this salad. Strong flavors. Salty and sweet. Excellent crunch, with lush nibbles of avocado and that creamy dressing to smooth it out. Each bite was unique. Very fun, colorful, and delicious. My mother-in-law was appreciative, and I think she really adored the little crunchy bacon bits.

Playing with Buttermilk Ranch Vinaigrette, Glass Bowl

Here is the other salad, beautifully colorful in a simple glass bowl.

Make it a Meal:
Done. I would’ve happily tossed some chicken breast in if I’d had any on hand, but it was fine on it’s own.

Pack it to Go:
This one would work really well packed to go — just make sure you’ve got a jar large enough to hold the apple and the avocado in with the dressing. Brown apples and avocados are no good, and both will stay fresh in the acidic dressing. The avocado will create more thickness in the dressing, and you’ll have less chunks on the fork, but it will still taste delicious. If you really want the avocado chunky, half an avocado, still in the skin, travels relatively well. You’ll have the one brown side, which you can trim off or ignore, but the rest of it will be perfect. Of course, if you’re packing salads for two people who will be eating at the same time and place, you can leave the avocado untouched until you’re ready to eat, and cut it into the salad at that point. And if you’re a real avocado freak (yes, like me) you can just give yourself extra avocado. This salad has enough crunch to handle all that creaminess. Your skin and brain won’t mind the extra healthy fats, either.

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