Quick and Easy Salad Dressings

There are occasions when your taste buds  just won’t settle for plain bottled dressing on that beautiful salad you put together from hand prepared or pre-washed and combined greens, nuts and fruits, no matter how much or how little time you have to “get it together”.  Regardless, we all need to take the time saving helps when we can, yet we’re never willing to sacrifice flavor.  That said, using that bottled dressing as a base is an absolute requirement if you will become a wizard at “dressing creation” and making a star quality finish for even your most  “hurry-up” work of art.  Here is the formula for some of my favorite semi-original dressings, one of which will work perfectly on just about any salad you can create.

These recipe combos are not created with an effort toward being fat or sugar free, but I have when occasion dictated, used fat-free and sugar free ingredients in these dressings with very good results.  In general, however, the focus is on using dressings lightly to finish the dish while showcasing all the individual ingredient flavors.

I.  Creamy Caramel Vinaigrette                                  Yield: 12 ounces

This dressing is perfect for any one of those crisp greens, fruit and toasted nut combo salads.  It also works well for dressing cole slaw, cruciferous combo salads with bacon or as a change up for iceberg wedge salad.

  • 1/4 c. bottled light champagne dressing
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 3 tbsp. caramel sundae sauce
  • 1  tbsp. champagne (or white wine) vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
  1. Shake or combine ingredients together well and lightly dress salad.
  2. Serve extra dressing on the side if desired.

II. Berry Vinaigrette                                                  Yield:  12 oz.

This dressing is the quickest of the “put together” finishes for salad and seems always to get the thumbs up and/or nods of approval. Perfect on salads of soft spring or baby greens, bitter lettuces and kales, and/or spicy greens (arugula, etc.), enhancing the flavors of other salad ingredients i.e. sweet onions, radishes, salty seeds and nuts.  Spectacular on salads served with white fish entrees.  It is also a sumptuous dressing for romaine salads that include apples, pears and/or melon as an ingredient.

  • 1/2 c. seedless berry preserves (you choose) red or black raspberry, blackberry, marion berry, tayberry.
  • 1/2 c. Italian dressing (your choice)  Mine is Wishbone Italian.
  • 1/2 c. cranberry juice
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • pinch of kosher salt
  1.  Heat preserves in a microwave proof dish in the microwave for 30 seconds or until liquified.
  2. Measure 1/2 c. Italian dressing into melted preserves. (Shake bottled dressing well before measuring)
  3. Add cranberry juice and mustard. Shake well to combine.
  4. Dress salad lightly and serve extra dressing on the side if you wish.

III.  Horseradish Dressing                Yield:  16 oz. 

This dressing was originally designed for Cole Slaw       

It is quick to “put together” and has become the finish for a great number of different kinds of salad and again, seems always to please. Perfect on salads of soft spring or baby greens, romaine and iceberg, this dressing perks up the flavors of peppers, cucumbers, etc.  It is spectacular on salads served with additions of meats (especially beef) and eggs and chunks of potato.             

  •  1 c. mayonnaise
  •  ¼ c. heavy cream (or greek yogurt)
  •  3 tbsp. horseradish
  •  3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  •  ¼ c. Sugar or sweetener
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. finely ground white pepper
  1. Blend mayonnaise, cream, horseradish and vinegar together in a bowl until well mixed.
  2. Add sugar, mustard, salt and pepper and mix to thoroughly combine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for as long as possible before dressing salad(s)up to 5 days.
  4. Dress salad lightly and serve extra dressing on the side if you wish.

 

IV.  Asian Vinaigrette

A great finish for romaine and baby spinach greens with celery, scallions, mandarin oranges, toasted cashews or almonds and sweet red pepper this dressing is also a sauce or dressing for asian noodles, hot or cold, with or without the above ingredients tossed in. It also works with pot stickers as a dipping sauce, over rice with stir fry,  a scrumptious marinade for chicken, fabulous as a poaching sauce for wild salmon; let your imagination be your guide.

  • 1/2 c. Orange marmalade
  • 1/4 c. lo-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
  •  3 tbsp. organic honey  (sugar substitute for those wishing to avoid more sugar)
  • 1/4 c. orange juice (fresh squeezed if possible)
  1.  Heat marmalade in a microwave proof dish in the microwave for 30 seconds or until liquified.
  2. Add and combine additional ingredients into melted marmalade until all is well mixed.
  3. Place in a salad dressing shaker as dressing will require shaking as ingredients separate.  Dress salads or noodles as desired.
  4. Note: as a marinade for chicken, place together with chicken in a ziplock bag and marinate refrigerated for at least an hour, overnight if possible. Place bag in a container with sides in case of leaks.  Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking.  Marinade may be reduced by boiling for 5 minutes to serve over cooked chicken.  Never use unboiled marinade.

V.  Sparkling Melba                                                        Yield 12 oz.

  • 1/2 c. peach preserves (can substitute apricot/pineapple)
  • 1/2 c. raspberry vinaigrette dressing
  • 1/2 c.  ginger ale
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root.
  • pinch kosher salt
  • toasted almonds and/or pecans
  1. Heat preserves in a microwave proof dish in the microwave for 30 seconds or until liquified.
  2. Add and combine salt, grated ginger, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing into melted preserves until all is well mixed.
  3. Slowly add ginger ale, stirring gently to combine.
  4. Lightly dress salad greens (soft, delicate lettuces, butter lettuce, baby romaines and radicchio).
  5. Add toasted almonds or pecans

VI.   Smokey Mayo Dressing

  • 1 c. good quality mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellman’s)
  • 1/2 c. half and half
  • 1/4 c. Italian dressing (your choice of brand and/or regular or fat-free)
  • 1 tbsp. applewood or hickory liquid smoke
  • 1 clove garlic,  grated
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Blend mayonnaise, half and half and Italian dressing to a smooth consistency
  2. Add liquid smoke, grated garlic and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate over night for best flavor.
  4. Serve with classic american salad vegetable blends, iceberg  lettuces, red, gold or new potato chunks… fabulous dressing for English pea salads and *cruciferous vegetable salads.    *Get that delectable bacon effect in your cruciferous salad without any of the negatives.

©2014 BAPantryGourmet.com/Barbara A. Ziegler  ~  All rights reserved

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