Summer of Salads, dressings…

Salad

First, an apology.  Right out of the gate, I dropped the ball on my posting this series, when I said I would. Originally I hadn’t planned to start this until this weekend, but I wanted to give you a little something to start with, over Memorial Day weekend and so I stupidly started earlier than I was ready for.  I am sorry for that.  I want you to be able to count on me to post when I say I am going to!  So, let’s get back on track, starting with this dressings post!

My husband usually doesn’t use dressing when he has a salad.  Unless its a Caesar Salad, or comes dressed at a restaurant.  So, for me, I sometimes end up just grabbing the bottled varieties, as I just don’t want to go through the hassle of making something special just for me. Not my favorite thing to do, as most of those are filled with things I can’t pronounce and don’t belong in a dressing.  We have tried a million different types of creamy Caesar dressings, which my kids tend to like best.  Recently we tried Ken’s Steak House brand and it was pretty good.  Blue Cheese dressings are also one we tend to buy instead of make.  I like Marie’s Super chunky Blue Cheese dressing, that you find usually by the other refrigerated dressings at the grocery store.  I will also buy the packets of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing at the store for my son and make my own with that, but still don’t feel like I am making the best choice there.  I did find this recipe for homemade Ranch dressing that I am going to try.  If you do, let me know what you thought of it!

Do you make your own dressings ever?  Do you know where to start?  I found a couple of GREAT resources online, that I couldn’t have done any better with, so I am linking them both below.

Gonna Dress You Up In My Love:  Four Easy Vinaigrette Recipes To Make Now” – by The Cuisinerd.  They also give a great “Gear for Yo’ Greens Salad Making Tool Box” list!

and

StoneGable Blog and their “Salad Dressing Primer” where they show you the basic “formulas” for making dressings & vinaigrettes.  I am TOTALLY going to try the Caesar & Green Goddess dressing recipes!

Watermelon Vinaigrette - Liv Life

I also was on Facebook the other day, and one of my foodie friends posted a link to this gorgeous Arugula Salad with a Watermelon Vinaigrette from the food blog www.http://livlifetoo.blogspot.com (photo credit to Liv Life) and new cookbook “Vinaigrettes and other Salad Dressings” written by Michele Anna Jordan.  I NEED this dressing & cookbook!

Strawberries

And last, one of my favorite things to do it Pin things on Pinterest!!!  It’s actually been super helpful, researching for this series and my #summersippers cocktail series as well.  One recent Pin, was for this Roast Strawberry Balsamic Dressing, I am dying to make!  Strawberry patches around me will soon by bursting with fresh fruit destined for this dressing!

dressing bottles

So, you don’t have time to make your own dressing and need help narrowing down the overwhelming store-bought varieties?  It’s okay, don’t freak out!  In addition to those I mentioned above, a couple other  favorite lines for us are Newman’s Own Dressings.  I especially like to use the Parmesan & Roasted Garlic to make a killer & quick pasta salad to take to potlucks in the summer.  We also like to buy packets of Kraft-Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing and then we can add our own favorite oil & vinegar to it.  Store-bought dressings can be expensive as well.  Shop around, read your labels & share with me some of your favorites!

vinegars

Speaking of vinegars, the choices you’ll find at the grocery store can be just as many!  We usually have several varieties of vinegar on hand.  The basic-white distilled, apple cider, rice wine, red wine and then usually a couple different types of balsamic vinegars, like dark, white, fig and/or pear.

Alessi Vinegars

My favorite line of store bought vinegars are Alessi brand.  In researching them online, I found they also make a Ginger Infused Balsamic & a Honey Balsamic vinegar I have to get my hands on!

Trader Joe's Balsamic Glaze

Last year, while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I found this.  Balsamic Glaze.  I want to put it on EVERYTHING but what I tend to put it on most, is salads.  It’s great when I want the taste of Balsamic Vinegar, but not the tart.  I’ve put it on little crostini’s with fresh Ricotta cheese.  Or on bruschetta made with roasted grapes, Brie cheese & Rosemary (my homage to Swirl My Wine’s dish I had on my birthday…read on!) A little drizzle goes a long way and, like everything at TJ’s, it might not be available when you go in.  Don’t be mad at me for teasing you.

Stillwater Olive Oil Company

Last summer, I spent my birthday with my sweeties in Afton at Swirl My Wine eating delicious nosh & sipping on cold, sweet glasses of wine.  From there, we headed to Stillwater to walk along the St. Croix River and found this great little shop, the Stillwater Olive Oil Company right on Main St.  The Minneapolis-St. Paul area offers many of these great stores, where you can purchase different varieties of olive oils & vinegars.  At the Stillwater Olive Oil Company, they specialize in imported extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and specialty oils from award-winning artisan and small-run producers around the world. You can sample & browse as long as you need to & offer many different sized vessels to take your purchases home in.  I picked out a bottle of Organic Persian Lime Olive Oil and Sicilian Lemon Vinegar.  They were both AMAZING!  It was extremely hard to pick just one of each, but I had to limit myself the first time out!  If you haven’t been, plan a trip soon!

Thanks for reading along today.  I hope I have provided you with some great resources & ideas!  Just remember, a dressing is made to enhance your salad, not take it over!  Plus, many extra calories lie in those creamy, delicious dressings!

Until next time, cheers!

Shawn

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