I was never a fan of the tossed salad and French dressing was among my least favorite dressings, but that all changed in my late 30’s. I had a June cooking demo to do at the farmers market and salad greens were among the few ingredients readily available. I apologetically passed this recipe development project onto my dietetic intern, Becky. A week later she returned with 4 dressing recipes and samples for taste testing. Granted my expectations were low, but I swear that upon my first bite, a choir of angel began singing. I tasted a subtle, creamy, tangy dressing without a trace of cloying artificial sweetness and chemical emulsifier mouth-feel—homemade French dressing. Life changing discoveries happen so infrequently as we grow older; I do not exaggerate when I say that this student forever changed the way I and my family eat…
Because I now can add greens quickly to the menu for any meal! Besides obviously keeping salad greens on hand, the key to instant greens is having at least one dressing in the fridge ready to go. With ingredients that have a long shelf-life, homemade French dressing has become a staple in our fridge, and no-one’s complaining. The kiddos and the sour-adverse like this one and a little goes a long way—just a tablespoon on 6 cups of salad ingredients.
Storing & Food Safety:
Use a good quality fine garlic powder not salt. I like Penzey’s or The Spice House. If you use fresh garlic, crush the whole clove, emulsify all the other ingredients, then add the crushed clove allowing it to marinate and impart its flavor in the dressing for a few days before removing. Do not mince the garlic, and allow it to remain in the dressing unless you plan on eating all the dressing within a few days!!! Minced garlic immersed in oil can be a breeding ground for botulism spores. Enough said.
Food poisoning aside and on a much more insignificant note, the chopped garlic spoils the creamy texture and clogs the squeeze bottles in which I store homemade dressings. Go get some of these. You can find them at the restaurant supply store. Clean and convenient, squeeze bottle are the best 2 bucks you’ll spend.
- 1 ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 T paprika
- 2 t kosher salt
- ¼ t quality garlic powders or 1 large clove of garlic, crushed (SEE “STORING”)
- 2 T sugar
- 1 t dry mustard
- ½ t Worcestershire sauce
- 1 - 2 t mayonnaise (optional)
- Combine all ingredients (except fresh garlic if using) and blend for about 1 minute. Transfer to a squeeze bottle for ease of serving and store in the fridge. It will keep for 3 months.
- Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously for 1 minute though it won’t stay emulsified—just shake each time before serving.
- FRESH GARLIC USERS: After emulsifying, add the fresh garlic to marinate for 24 hours shaking occasionally, then remove and discard the clove.
Cooking (and Eating) with Kids:
As a dietitian, I have long advised everyone to include a daily serving, either raw or cooked, of the most nutrient-dense super-food available—greens. This can be a challenge when you think that you don’t like salad (like the old me) or greens in any form (like most children.) To the defense of the little food neo-phobes, they taste the bitterness in greens more keenly than those of us with well-worn taste buds. Moreover, cooked greens can pose a texture problem in the form of mushiness. On the other hand, crisp, raw veggies are more readily accepted in the under-18 community. Dips are particularly popular. So start there. Serve crisp leaves from hearts of romaine with a small dish of dressing. The kids love dipping and eating the individual leaves just like they would carrot sticks. Bingo! We have our gateway green and the kids will be on to requesting side salads for dinner before you know it.
Check out the pictures of the kids below (mine plus the neighbors’) who kept begging to eat my food props during the photo shoot. I love to see kids eating veggies, but begging…that brings a matchless joy to my heart.