Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recipes: Homemade Salad Dressings

Maybe it's because I grew up in a health-nut family, but I thoroughly enjoy fruits, veggies, and salads of all kinds. I don't care for many of the stronger-flavored dressings that are commercially available, so I pretty much stick to Ranch unless I make up some homemade dressings. 

I'm gradually putting together a small collection of recipes that are quick and easy, and don't require any expensive or hard-to-find ingredients. It doesn't take long to make them, and it's so much healthier than the store-bought kind that are full of preservative and artificial flavors! Want to take a peek at a few of my favorites? Let me know if you give these a try - and if you have your own favorites to share, please do so in the comments!

(I cheated and grabbed this picture from sxc.hu, but it looks like my typical salad combo)

Here's a special dressing I make whenever we get fresh spinach on sale. It's super easy, yummy, and the poppy seeds look pretty on the salad.

Spinach Salad Dressing 
1/4 c. mayo/Miracle Whip
2 Tb. milk (cream or half-and-half also works; I've used powdered milk in a pinch, too)
2 1/2 Tb. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. poppyseeds 
Mix together well, and keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

Note: I like to serve this over a salad of fresh spinach, sliced almonds, craisins, and mozzarella cheese (small cubes or shredded). I think it could also work great with grapes, strawberries, pears, walnuts, or other similar ingredients.


Another recipe I enjoy is from my friend Tammy's great blog, Tammy's Recipes. She pairs it with her easy and delicious Oriental Chicken Salad, but it's good with other salads, too. Here's the way I make it:

Tammy's Chicken Salad Dressing 
6 Tb. honey
1 Tb. apple cider vinegar
4 Tb. mayo/Miracle Whip
1 Tb. regular mustard (the condiment, not the powdered spice)
2 Tb. olive oil 
Put into a bottle with a tight lid and shake well until it is lump-free, stirring if needed. Helps if the honey is plenty warm and runny. If you prefer more or less sweetness, tweak amounts. Store leftovers in fridge, but set out ahead of the meal to warm to room temperature since the honey gets pretty thick and hard to pour.


A friend's request for homemade Ranch salad dressing the other day prompted me to request my sister Lydia's recipe. I haven't made it yet myself because we have a good stock in the pantry to use up first, but this is a delicious dressing that's even better than store-bought Ranch:
Lydia's Ranch Dressing 
1 c. mayonaise
1/2 c. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper 
Mix and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Note from Lydia: I have made it without the chives, onion powder, and pepper most of the time. I just put in a little finely chopped onion instead.

Note from Abigail: My favorite salad to combine with Ranch dressing is loose-leaf lettuce and/or mixed greens, chopped tomato, chopped bell pepper (preferably yellow, but I usually go with green because they're cheaper), a handful of toasted, salted sunflower seeds for crunch, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese for color. I'll also use chopped cucumber or sliced carrots sometimes, and if you like raw onion that could be thrown in, too. Makes a very beautiful salad!


And finally, my lifelong favorite which we had almost exclusively while growing up, a recipe concocted by my grandpa and always served at their house:

Grandpa's Salad Dressing 
1/2 c. mayo/Miracle Whip
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vinegar 
Mix together thoroughly and store in the fridge. This recipe can easily be made in larger quantities; just use half as much vinegar as the other ingredients. Shake well just before serving.

Note: I personally don't care for this dressing in combination with tomatoes in a salad (I think it's the vinegar/tomato combo), but it is wonderful over any other types of greens and veggies. Sweet and simple, we've had many guests comment on its tastiness over the years.

1 comment:

  1. This is our absolute favourite: http://annejisca.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/voeller-salad-dressing/

    I always have the ingredients on hand for it, and we almost always have some on hand as I make double batches each time. :) I like how it doesn't have to be in the fridge too! The last time I made it, I also added 2Tbsp of lemon juice and that was yummy! And actually, since posting the recipe, I've also omitted the honey completely.