Cold-weather comfort foods are warm, thick, heavy and good for dispelling a chill, but sometimes they leave me feeling weighed down and sluggish. That’s why I opt for a lighter meal once in a while, replacing a stew or meaty dish with a large, luscious salad. To ensure full salad satisfaction, I enjoy it with some grilled chicken and a full-bodied and flavorful dressing of my own creation. Homemade dressing means less packaging waste—storing them in corked bottles is a great way to repurpose extra glass—and fewer unnecessary preservatives and chemicals, as well as a dressing tailored specifically to your tastes. Plus, with olive oil as a main ingredient, you can feel free to drizzle a few extra spoonfuls over top and still eat healthy. Try each of these three effortless salad dressing recipes, or make one up yourself and post it in the comments box below.
Variety is the spice of life, so shake up your old salad routine and whip up a batch of one (or more) of these three delectable dressings. From left: tangy balsamic vinaigrette, “Almost Famous” Italian dressing and grapefruit and mint vinaigrette. Photo By Dani Hurst.
Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette(a variation of my mom’s original recipe)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Blend all ingredients together in food processor or whisk in a small bowl. For a thicker dressing, add the olive oil slowly while blending or whisking.
“Almost Famous” Italian Dressing
This recipe, from Food Network Magazine, is for an Olive Garden-esque dressing. It isn't exactly the same as the restaurant version, but it does make a tasty Italian dressing. The next time I make it, I will probably omit the extra tablespoons of water because mine is a little runnier than I'd like.
• Click here for the Food Network Magazine's "Almost Famous" Italian dressing.
Storing your homemade dressings in glass bottles with screw-on caps or corked beer bottles will cut down on your waste and recycling piles. Photo By Dani Hurst.
Grapefruit and Mint Vinaigrette
The light citrus and mint flavors of this recipe from Whole Living are a welcome change from typical winter foods. It was a little too oily tasting at first, so I added extra vinegar to mine and didn't add any salt. The next time I make this, I will use more grapefruit and mint and less oil.
• Click here for Whole Living's Grapefruit and Mint Vinaigrette dressing.
A word of advice about olive oil: I used “pure” olive oil this time because it’s all I had on-hand, but because of its stronger flavor I had to adjust the ingredients slightly when making my dressings. I would recommend using extra-virgin olive oil for these dressings unless you really like a heavy olive flavor.