Monday, May 25, 2009

Homemade Dressings and Marinades

A few years ago, it occurred to me that I didn't need to buy salad dressing, marinades, or prepared sauces. After reading labels and being disgusted by some of the things added to these items (like high fructose corn syrup) and realizing how much I spent on this sort of stuff (and the wastefulness of the packaging that I'd be throwing away), I started making my own. Recently I bought a Greek Seasoning from Penzey's and just add water, vinegar, and olive oil in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge. This post by Elise discusses vinaigrette ratios and a book that I've been wanting to read.Here are two easy dressings you can make on your own:

Dressing #1:
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced.

Combine in a container and shake it up or use a whisk.

Dressing #2:
1/4 c. basil leaves
1/3 c. olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Chop up basil leaves and whisk all ingredients together.

The next two recipes can be used in a variety of ways - as a marinade for chicken, fish or veggies; as a dipping sauce for cooked meat, veggies, or chips; or to dress different types of salads.

Basil-Parsley Pesto (from Celebrating with Julienne by Susan Campoy) - makes about 2 cups

1 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 1/2 c. lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 c. good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. (about 5 oz) freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

You can make this in a food processor or blender. I had great results with my hand blender packing everything into a large cup and then pulsing until it was mostly smooth. I'd pack everything into your bowl/blender/cup except the olive oil and cheese. Pour some olive oil over the top, adding more as it gets blended together. Add the cheese at the end. You can make it ahead but some of the oil might separate out and it might discolor unless you put plastic wrap right on the surface of the pesto.


* Marinate chicken in this overnight, then bake or grill (sometimes I do chicken skewers)
* Make pasta salad or barley salad and toss it with this (see below for barley)
* Use as salad dressing

I had leftover pesto so I made this salad for our Memorial Day picnic:

Barley salad with vegetables, feta & pesto

1 1/2 c. barley
1 medium cucumber, diced
1 cup chopped tomato
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
Chopped fresh parsley (a couple tablespoons)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

I soaked the barley overnight in 3 cups water, drained, and cooked for 15 minutes in about 5 cups boiling water, and drained it again. Then I tossed the warm barley with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the pesto and refrigerated it. I added the cut up veggies, a little more pesto, and the feta before I served it. If you wanted a main dish, adding some cooked or grilled chicken for protein would be great in this salad.

Cilantro Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper

Try tossing it with these three ingredients for a yummy summer salad:
3 cups fresh corn kernels (approx. 6 small ears)
5 medium tomatoes, diced
2/3 c. finely chopped red onion

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