Cheapskate Gourmet: Salad Dressings

If you think eating well means eating out, you may be feeling the effects of restaurant dining in your pocketbook as the price of restaurant meals continues to soar.

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The truth is 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 in a restaurant—at a fraction of the cost of eating out—you can, too.

For many years (long 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 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 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: 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 restaurants that charge upwards of $8 for a single lettuce wedge salad. (Yikes!)

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.

FAST 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 Fast Russian Dressing (above)
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped finely (optional)

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 covered in the refrigerator. So good!

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6 replies
  1. Kim Rubin
    Kim Rubin says:

    I love honey mustard dressing and have made it in the past using a recipe almost identical to the one you posted. However, I found a better recipe quite a few years back and thought I’d post it here for you to try. It’s not too different in ingredients than yours, but it really is amazing.Take my word for it (and the word of every single person who has tried it) it’s the very best honey mustard I’ve ever had. I use it for salad, for honey mustard chicken, etc.

    Honey Mustard

    ¾ c. mayonnaise

    3 tbsp. honey

    2 tbsp. yellow mustard

    1 tbsp. lemon juice

    2 tbsp. orange juice

    Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

    Reply
  2. crabbyoldlady
    crabbyoldlady says:

    The very best is the way Italians do it…..drizzle olive oil and vinegar to taste, then toss. Easy sneezy and delicious!

    Reply

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