There are many things we take for granted because they come in a prepackaged box, a plastic bottle, or with several layers of cardboard. We’ve lost the art of “homemade;” the term now gets thrown around for cute art projects found on Pinterest. We trust and find comfort in things in plastic containers with manufacturers’ labels because that’s what we’re used to, and what advertising companies want us to want. We forget that we end up paying more for things we can easily make at home. Not only is it cheaper it’s much healthier for us to bypass the chemicals and the plastic and make things at home. Even the products marketed as green and eco-friendly are just jumping on the current marketing bandwagon and are usually overpriced. Just because something looks different and isn’t what we’re used to does not make it bad or less than.
This brings me to the salad dressing.
My fellow YAVs and myself recently had a “salad dressing throw-down,” a crash course in how to make delicious salad dressing from the contents of your fridge and pantry. Salad dressing has become so normal and mundane that it’s an afterthought, when really it’s an important staple at most meals. So why not experiment and have fun with it, and most importantly, make it taste good? I’ll admit we were a little intimidated before the throw-down, but in the end we had a great time and I’ve never been so excited to eat salad.
There are 3 basic components to a good salad dressing– fatty, salty, and sour. The fat comes in the form of oils, nuts, and dairy-based products. The salt is… well, salty. And the sour usually comes in the form of vinegar or citrus (I’ve learned this year that lemon is a particular favorite of mine.) Once you have your base you can mix in some fun flavors– sweet (honey works really well), savory, and/or use herbs.
Our challenge, in 2 groups of 2, was to create 3 different salad dressings, using each of the different types of fats. We kind of felt like we were in Top Chef– there was parsley flying around the table, several different kinds of jars of exotic brown liquid, yogurt getting passed around table, and countless sampling spoons to try all of the concoctions. Also a hurried frenzy to create something amazing before the other team.
My fellow YAV and partner in the show-down, Alex, and I created a yougrt-based mint dressing with a little lemon juice, honey, and salt. Our nut-based experiment included peanut butter with spicy habanero sauce, two different kinds of vinegar, garlic, and of course salt, then water to thin it out. Our third, and my personal favorite, was oil-based with parsley, lime juice, maple syrup, and (surprise) salt.
After our experiments we celebrated with a huge lunch of salad with all the fixins’.
It was delicious.