Three Salad Dressing Bases for Fifteen Delicious Salads


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Well this is it darlings, our last episode of the salad dressing series.  I decided to focus this {part three} on fruit based salad dressings. These are lovely with a few notes of heat and savory to balance the sweet overtones of the dressings; care should be given to what ingredients you decide to add to the salad.  Remember, the goal is to create a balance of flavor. I’ve shared a few ingredients that I have put with them, but feel confident to create your own salads based on the concepts of balance we have discussed in the previous primers. Enjoy your time in the kitchen and remember to taste as you go; balancing the part (the dressing) as well as the whole (the salad ingredients with the dressing).

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Fruit Base Primer

Fruit based salad dressings are inherently sweet and that is exactly why we like them. I have taken the vinaigrette ratio of 2:1 and turned it on its head.  The ratio now reads fruit puree 2: 1 oil + water.  The fruit based dressings need a little help in only small ways:  A little sugar or honey to boost the flavor of your produce if not in season. A little water to create the consistency you’re looking for; thin vs. thick. A little oil to create a lovely sheen and roundness of flavor.  Finally, the flavor boosters from your pantry and fridge to add interest and balance to the dressing.  In some cases you may grab the vinegar to brighten the flavor, peppers to add heat or herbs to add a vibrant touch.  I have played around in my kitchen to come up with these and hope you will do the same. Have fun!

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Fruit Base

½  cup fruit puree or juice

1 Tablespoon of water or more to create consistency with puree

1 Tablespoon oil (a neutral oil is best)

1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon sugar (optional- depends on the sweetness of the fruit)

1 teaspoon vinegar (optional if dressing needs brightening)

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch of black pepper

Flavor Boosters of your choice

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Vanilla Roasted Pears with Orange Raspberry Vinaigrette

For the Dressing

Makes 2/3 cup

1/3 cup tangelo juice (orange juice is great too)

3 oz. of raspberries (frozen) – about 1/3 cup

½ Tablespoon vanilla sugar

½ Tablespoon rice vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch of black pepper

1 Tablespoon oil

Directions

In a blender combine all ingredients adding the oil last. Taste as you go, it should be sweet and bright.

 

For the Salad

2 large red Anjou pears, unpeeled–quartered–cored-sliced

3 cups arugula or spring mix greens

2 oz. Manchego cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano , slivered in large chunks

1/3 cup almonds sliced and toasted

1 Tablespoon melted butter

2 Tablespoons vanilla sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

 Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a bowl combine the melted butter, pear slices, cinnamon and sugar. Roast on a sheet pan until just tender, about 10- 15 minutes.

Prep the remaining ingredients. Once the pears are out of the oven serve alongside raspberry and tangelo dressing.

 

Notes: This salad is playing with temperature (warm pears with cinnamon against cool sweet raspberry dressing) and sweet (pears, dressing) vs. bitter and salty (arugula and Manchego cheese).

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Strawberry & Tangelo Caprese Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the Dressing

Makes scant 1 cup

6 oz. frozen strawberries, about 2/3 cup

2 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar ( an aged, thick balsamic is best)

¼ cup water

1 Tablespoon oil

½  teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a blender combine all ingredients adding the oil last. Taste as you go, it should be sweet strawberry with a rich undertone of aged balsamic

(quality of balsamic vinegar does matter here, so splurge on the good stuff; you’ll be glad you did).

Use the leftover dressing as syrup for pancakes, drizzled over ice cream or as a marinade for pork and chicken.

 

For the Salad

Serves 2

2 Tangelo oranges – any orange will do, rind removed and sliced horizontally (around the equator)

4 large strawberries sliced horizontally

6 slices of good mozzarella

6-8 leaves of fresh basil

¼ cup pistachios, shell removed and finely diced

Directions

Layer the oranges, strawberries, mozzarella and basil alternating on a serving platter with a sprinkle of pistachio on top. Drizzle the dressing along the perimeter.

 

Notes: The basil is essential to add relief from the sweet in this salad. The pistachio adds a pleasant

 texture of crunch against the smooth mozzarella. (The oranges may be supremed- cut in segments- to make them easier to eat.

I liked slicing them in half to mimic a tomato slice, but I have to admit it takes a little maneuvering with a knife to eat them easily.)

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Vanilla Pineapple & Rosemary Quinoa Salad

 

For the Salad Dressing

Makes about ½ cup

½ cup pineapple juice

2 Tablespoons vanilla sugar

2 Tablespoon water

1 sprig rosemary

1 Tablespoon oil

Directions

Bring to boil the pineapple, water, sugar and rosemary in a sauce pan. Boil for 1 minute, remove from the heat and steep the rosemary for 20 minutes. Then remove the rosemary, combine the pineapple mixture and oil in a blender. Give it a quick mix and set aside.

 

For the Salad

Makes 4 cups

2 cups quinoa, uncooked

2  medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks

1 red onion, sliced and diced

¼ cup pistachios, shell removed and finely diced

1 – 15 oz can pineapple slices or chunks

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely minced

2 teaspoons oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  In a bowl combine the sweet potatoes, oil, a pinch of salt and rosemary leaves. Roast on a sheet pan for 20 minutes or until just tender.

Bring to boil 3 1/2 cups of water, add the quinoa. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low for 15-20 minutes. The quinoa will be slightly under cooked, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and add ½ cup of pineapple rosemary dressing. Re-cover to allow the quinoa to absorb the liquid, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a skillet with a touch of butter, sprinkle pineapple slices with brown sugar and sauté until edges are crisp and golden.

If you have time, briefly toast the pistachios, too.

Pull it all together with rosemary- sweet potatoes, red onion, pistachio, and sugared pineapple layered on bed of quinoa ( if any dressing left, drizzle on top). This would be wonderful served alongside grilled pork chops. The dressing would also be delicious as a cold drink served over ice in the summer.

Notes: The dressing is a warm sweet dressing with a hint of rosemary for balance.  In the salad the red onions are crucial to add the needed relief from the sautéed pineapple being too sweet and dominating the salad. The pistachios add a bit of texture and the rosemary on the potatoes is a nice savory element.

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Jerk Seared Scallops with Jalapeno Mango Vinaigrette

For the Salad Dressing

Makes 1 cup

6 oz frozen mangos, thawed

1 small jalapeno, rough dice

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

½ Tablespoon honey

3 mint leaves

1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves

1 Tablespoon oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

In a blender combine all ingredients adding the oil last. Taste as you go, it should be refreshingly sweet with a warm heat near the end.

 

For the Salad

Serves 4

2 cups green cabbage, finely sliced

½ cup purple cabbage, finely sliced

3 colorful trio of bell peppers, finely diced

3 scallions, finely diced

½ cup sliced almonds

Fresh sprigs of cilantro, loosely diced

4 large scallops

 

Jamaican Jerk Rub

Makes 3/4 cup

½ cup -2 Tbsp. smoked paprika

            2 Tbsp. coriander

            2 Tbsp. brown sugar

            2 Tbsp. allspice

¼ cup -1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

            1 ½ tsp. onion powder

            1 tsp. salt

            1 tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. each nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper

Mix together and store in your pantry for 3 months.

Directions

Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl.

Rinse the scallops and pat dry, very dry. Roll the sides and top in rub, set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet over high heat.When the oil is slightly smoking, add the scallops, sear the scallops on each side for 1 ½  – 2 minutes (depending on how large they are).  You are looking for a dark golden sear while the center is still translucent.

Add the slaw to the skillet for 1-2 minutes to soften the cabbage a bit.

Serve the cabbage slaw alongside the seared scallops with a drizzle of jalapeno dressing.  Or place in a removable cookie cutter ring, to get the effect I did in the picture, topped by a scallop and drip jalapeno mango around the plate. This would also be great served with shrimp, pork or chicken.

 

Notes: The Jamaican jerk rub adds a pleasant heat to the scallops, the jalapeno, mint and cilantro balance the sweet mango and the slightly wilted slaw is a soft crunch opposing the smooth scallop.

 

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Pomegranate & Meyer Lemon Bean Salad with Feta & Kumquats

For the Salad Dressing

Makes ¾ cup

½ cup pomegranate juice

2 meyer lemons, juice and zest – about ¼ cup

(regular lemon works, too but adjust with a bit more sugar for balance)

1 Tablespoon water

½ Tablespoon vanilla sugar

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch of pepper

1 Tablespoon oil

Directions

Bring to the boil pomegranate and lemon juice, water, sugar and spices. Boil for 3 minutes, remove from the heat and then steep for 20 minutes.  In a blender, combine the oil and pomegranate mixture. Set aside.

 

For the Salad

Makes about 6 cups

1 – 15 oz can of black beans

1- 15 oz can white beans

1-    15 oz can black eyed peas

½ cup finely diced red onion

½ cup diced baby cucumbers

⅓ cup finely sliced kumquats

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

1-2 jalapeno chiles finely diced

(depends on much heat you want in the salad)

2 avocados chopped

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

6 sprigs fresh cilantro, rough chop

1 teaspoon salt

½  teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Drain and rinse the canned beans. Set aside. Chop, slice and dice the remaining ingredients. Combine them with the beans in a large bowl. Drizzle the pomegranate dressing over the top- go lightly and use only the amount needed to flavor your salad, use the leftover dressing as a marinade for chicken ( I had about ¼ cup left). Sprinkle fresh feta and cilantro on the top and serve.

 

Notes: The sweetness of the dressing is balanced by the slightly bitter rind of the kumquat, the sharpness of the red onion and the saltiness of the feta.

The smooth beans are balanced by the crunch of cucumbers, red onion and pomegranate seeds.

Extra Notes: I have used vanilla sugar in many of these recipes, obviously regular sugar or honey would be a fine substitute, but there is just something about the warm notes that vanilla adds to the sugar that deepens and broadens the flavor of the dressings.  I have included a recipe on how to make vanilla sugar, so you will always have it ready in your pantry.

Once you use vanilla sugar, you’ll always want to have it on hand.

Ruby Red Grapefruit and Quinoa Citrus Salad

Vanilla Sugar

2 cups sugar, I used evaporated cane juice, but good old fashioned white is great, too.

1 vanilla pod and fragrant seeds

In a jar with an air tight lid, combine 2 cups sugar with seeds and vanilla pod.

Give it two weeks before it’s loveliness is ready to be revealed; use and instantly improve any recipe needing sugar.

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