lettuce wedge salad blue cheese dressing with tomato garnish

Cheapskate Gourmet: Salad Dressings

If you think eating well means eating out—home delivery, pick-up, or dining-in—you may be feeling the effects of restaurant dining in your wallet as the cost of restaurant meals is now soaring in ways we’ve not seen before.

Yesterday, I was shocked to read the new (disposable) menu at a small local hamburger joint in our town. The same classic hamburger that was $7.95 pre-virus, is now $11.95. Will prices decline as this thing settles down? I wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s time for us to change our thinking and start digging in to find every realistic way imaginable that we can save time and money every day.

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If I can make the leap from being a diner-in-debt to making irresistible meals at home that often taste even better than those from a restaurant—at a fraction of the cost of eating out—you can, too.  One way to do this is to learn how to make gourmet salad dressings at home.

For many years ( before there was a Food Channel), I was uniquely privileged to sit under the personal tutelage of world-famous gourmet cooks the likes of Julia Child, Christopher Kimball, Martha Stewart, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

Every weekend I had standing appointments with one or more of them. They came right into my home and demonstrated unique techniques while I assumed a prone position, curled up in my favorite blanket, first-row-center in front of the television. They sparked confidence in me. From that start, my love for making great meals economically has grown.

Today, I want to share my basic recipes for what I consider to be gourmet salad dressings. So fresh and easy. Tasty, too.

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Here’s my favorite no-brainer gourmet salad dressing: Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into wedges and arrange them on one plate or individual salad plates. Drizzle blue cheese dressing over the top and you’re done. Or if you want to really go all out, jazz it up with chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet onion, and bacon bits. I know of one restaurant that charges $8 or a single lettuce wedge salad, but not for long. That was pre-virus.

Yogurt Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) plain yogurt
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Place both ingredients in a bowl and mash together with a fork until well combined.

Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash together with a fork until well combined. Add enough cream or milk to achieve the desired consistency.

Non-Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1 cup vinaigrette (see below)
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Mix the crumbled blue cheese into the vinaigrette, leaving small lumps.

Basic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a jar, cover tightly, and shake very well. Shake again before using.

Variations: Add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh (or 2 teaspoons dried) of any of the following herbs: tarragon, dill, thyme, oregano, chervil, sage or parsley.

Quick Russian Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup ketchup

Place both ingredients in a small bowl and stir together until blended. Keep refrigerated.

Thousand Island Dressing

  • 1 recipe Quick Russian Dressing (above)
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped finely (optional, but oh, so good!)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.

Tzatziki (Gyro) Sauce and Salad Dressing

  • 1 cucumber, chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped finely
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh onion, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve as a dipping sauce, spread on Gyros, or as a dressing for Greek salads.

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Store this gourmet salad dressing covered in the refrigerator. So good!

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11 replies
    • Jan says:

      1 pack of dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. 1 cup Hellmans mayo. 1 cup of buttermilk. 1 grated carrot. Wisk together and enjoy.

      Reply
    • Cathy says:

      Rachael Ray’s ranch dressing recipe is –

      1 cup plain low fat yogurt
      2 Tbsp grated red onion
      2 Tbsp chopped parsley
      2 Tbsp fresh OR 1 tsp dried dill
      1 Tbsp lemon juice
      1 clove garlic
      salt and pepper

      Smash the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Smash together to make into a paste. Mix with everything else. Yum!

      Reply
  1. Lydia says:

    If you are going to make the Tzatziki dressing after you chop the cucumber squeeze as much water as possible out of it. I wrap mine in a clean towel after I have squeezed out what I could, to get a little more water out. If you don’t it will be watery.

    Reply
  2. John McClung says:

    Do you have a recipe for Japanese Ginger Dressing?
    I can’t seem to find one that is as good as the ones in better Japanese restaurants.

    Reply
    • Debi says:

      Ann, a couple of suggestions for low fat dressings that I use would be a flavorful vinegar (I think Mary has an article on how to infuse vinegar with herbs) or a favorite salsa. Both work well as salad dressings.

      Reply

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