It’s still cold here in SC by ~my~ standards other than the glorious 70+ degree days that are sprinkled in here and there, but I am starting to crave lighter foods already. One of the easiest big-batch things for me to pre-make on a Sunday to dole out for lunches throughout the workweek is a big ole salad.
Getting tired of the same old same old is easy if you make the same salad a few days in a row. But even if the ingredient within never change, the dressing can take a salad in different directions. Some salad dressings straight up suck though. Ever gotten a new bottle of salad dressing and immediately been angry that you wasted five to ten bucks on the worst goop in the world?
I know, we could and probably should be making our own salad dressings but sometimes life just isn’t that kind. It’s a lofty expectation for those of us who aren’t work-from-home food bloggers and who just can’t seem to drag ourselves to bed before 11 p.m and out of it before 7:30 a.m. Sometimes making your own dressing is feasible and super awesome, like this one for Blue Cheese Dressing from the Prime Rib. It’s amazing but it requires a lot of ingredients (I remember being in the grocery store looking all over for prepared horseradish! Finally found it next to the deli meats, somehow) and makes a lot, which isn’t conducive to one or two people trying to eat a variety of salads in one week before the mixture spoils.
My go to dressings are:
Annie’s Organic Goddess Dressing
This bottled gloriousness is my favorite as a substitute for mayo on a seven layer salad or any other green salad. It’s creamy like thousand island or ranch, but the cream comes from tahini rather than a ton of dairy. It does still ring in at 12 grams of fat per two tablespoons, but that should be more than enough for a supersize salad because it is a very flavorful addition! It could be thinned out even further with the addition of a little more apple cider vinegar to taste, for those who aren’t into as creamy of dressings.
Basil Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
So this is one that you technically have to make, but only by the virtue of pouring and shaking! Even at 7:55 a.m. while I am downing coffee, can I pour the two into a little tupperware container and tossing into my lunchbox with my made in advance salad. My favorite basil olive oil is from Crescent Olive on Devine Street. I have to admit, other than samples I’ve never gotten another oil from them because I am that devoted to the basil. I find it goes best on baby spinach based salads and especially complements the addition of cheese and berries, very much like this extremely patriotic salad. Also, I am out and need to go this week to get some more!
Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing
Maybe this is too low brow for the self professed foodies but when you just want a little taste of the days when you thought the OG was classy dining (me, as a kid, in the 90s – it was my go to birthday dinner spot every year) and that tangy bite of their dressing on something better than iceberg lettuce, now you can have it. Call me the worst food writer ever, but don’t act like you haven’t asked for a refill on the salad bowl last time you were there. Nutritionally, it isn’t much worse than the dairy free Annie’s above, coming in at 8 grams total fat per two tablespoons, but also with 520 mg of sodium. Again, moderation is key to still be able to call this salad a win, health-wise. It’s available in most supermarkets, the location finder indicates. Toss on the croutons and a pepperocini, then offer yourself a sample of your house red wine for the most authentic experience.
In another post another time soon, we’ll discuss homemade dressings that are copycats of your restaurant favorites, including a version of Olive Garden’s for those opposed to buying it and also Moe’s chipotle ranch, plus ways to best store it and even halving large recipes so you’re not throwing out bad dressing.