House dressing: Making your own salad dressing at home isn't as hard as you think

Red wine vinegar with grapeseed oil, left, raspberry sesame dressing and avocado dressing.

Red wine vinegar with grapeseed oil, left, raspberry sesame dressing and avocado dressing.

The salad days are here.

And we're not talking about a return to that time of life where you were green with innocence and inexperience (though, wouldn't that be fun?).

Nope, we're talking about the time of year when you can get the freshest salad Northeast Kansas has to offer. Mid-May offers greens of all sorts of all shades and sizes - from delicate baby spinach to crisp romaine to smooth buttercrunch, salad greens are popping up everywhere from the Farmers' Market to your own personal kitchen garden.

In a word: Yum!

And what goes perfectly with fresh-from-the-garden greens? Equally tasty dressing.

But why head to the store when you can have dressing just as fresh as the salad adorning your plate? Dressings are easy to make and take little more equipment than a whisk or a blender.

Try out a few new recipes or create your own - it would be a shame to let those greens wilt while you head out for another bottle of the same-old, same-old.

Recipes

Avocado Dressing

1 avocado (1 large or

2 small, fully ripe )

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1-2 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (or, cilantro or parsley)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Peel avocados and cut flesh into chunks. Combine with remaining ingredients and use a food processor, blender or hand-held stick blender to puree the ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. Use as a dressing for tossed salads or a dip for fresh vegetables.

Cilantro Orange Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Juice and zest from 1 large orange

1/4 cup prepared orange juice

1 cup cilantro leaves (stems removed)

1 tablespoons brown mustard

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well, until cilantro is finely chopped and all ingredients are well-mixed. Best if refrigerated several hours or overnight to let the flavors meld.

Serve dressing tossed in your favorite salad. Great with mixed greens, cubed chicken and mandarin oranges.

Low-Fat Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 cup low-fat buttermilk, well-shaken

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons lowfat sour cream

1 green onion, chopped (medium-sized)

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 tablespoon celery leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon Italian parsley, chopped and packed into measuring spoon

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 fresh garlic cloves (or to taste)

Sea salt, to taste

Pepper, freshly ground, to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients for one minute. Turn off blender and taste the dressing. Adjust spices as needed.

Store in a covered container, and keep chilled. Will keep for 1 week.

Serve with your favorite seasonal greens, with salmon or as a cooling dip for spicy meats.

Avocado Dressing

1 avocado (1 large or 2 small, fully ripe )

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1-2 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (or, cilantro or parsley)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Peel avocados and cut flesh into chunks. Combine with remaining ingredients and use a food processor, blender or hand-held stick blender to puree the ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. Use as a dressing for tossed salads or a dip for fresh vegetables.

Sour Cream Italian Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried whole oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried whole basil

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients, stirring well with a wire whisk. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Raspberry and Sesame Dressing

2-1/2 ounces raspberry red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salt and pepper, to taste

2-1/2 ounces grapeseed oil (or other salad oil)

1 teaspoon German mustard

Mix all ingredients together until well-blended. Serve immediately over your favorite salad.

Cilantro Cranberry Vinaigrette

1Ž4 cup brown rice vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1Ž2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1Ž2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1Ž3 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped

1Ž4 cup dried cranberries

2Ž3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Water (dilute vinaigrette with water to taste)

In a blender, combine vinegars, fresh garlic, lemon juice, cilantro and cranberries. With blender still running, slowly add olive oil until well-blended. Add water, salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly coat your favorite seasonal green salad, and offer a small dish on the side for dipping.

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