The first official 3rd & Curry Street Farmer's Market of the season starts Saturday and runs from 8:30 a.m. through 1:30 p.m.
What better time to make a salad and try out a homemade dressing.
In the summer, I like to make a lot of salads. Salads require no cooking, are fresh, and if you grow a garden, it is a wonderful payoff for all your hard work.
My favorite summer weekend tradition is attending the farmer's market with my daughter. This year, we have added a few more to our family, so maybe we can make it a family event.
During the summer, I get the majority of my produce from the farmer's market, but this year I have tackled growing a few salad items on my own. There are many green thumbs in my family, and this year I am trying out my own green thumb. My garden is small, consisting of herbs, lettuce and tomatoes. I'm sure that is very small to some of you, but that is a big step for me.
Hopefully, my garden will grow during the years. Lettuce has proved to be real nice to have available in my own backyard, and it has been so easy to grow.
With so many fresh ingredients from the market and out of my own backyard, I cannot see corrupting them with a store-bought dressing full of high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. With the exception of ranch dressing, which I make from the packet, I make my own homemade dressings. Finding an extraordinary ranch dressing recipe has been a challenge. Instead, I use the packet, some buttermilk and mayonnaise. So if, you happen to have a ranch dressing recipe that is fantastic, please feel free to email me.
Some people are in complete disbelief when I tell them I make my own dressings. They think that it is a tremendous time-savings to buy dressing at the store. Well, I happen to know that I can make my own dressing in a matter of minutes, and I can guarantee it will taste even better. If you don't like to bust out the blender, you can simply use a jar. Canning jars work well, or use a cleaned recycled glass jar with a lid. (I save my artichoke and caper jars for storing homemade seasoning mixes and making dressings.)
Because it is so simple, this vinaigrette recipe is a good place to start. Begin with acid (vinegars or citrus juice), spices (fresh herbs, garlic, soy sauce, peppers), just a little sugar (granulated, brown, honey), and oil (walnut, grapeseed oil, olive oil, canola or any of your favorites). Change it up with flavored oils or vinegars. My favorites are Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, available at Trader Joes, and blood orange olive oil.
Here are a few dressing recipes. Some require a blender and others just a jar. The more you make your own dressing, the more creative you will become. The first is a basic vinaigrette:
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dried herbs (basil, oregano, thyme
salt & pepper
Pour all ingredients into a well-sealed jar and shake it vigorously until well blended. You can add garlic to this dressing, just chop the garlic very fine before adding it.
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
2⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon chives
1 teaspoon parsley
Pour all ingredients into a well-sealed jar and shake it vigorously until well blended.
The next dressing is a lighter take on one of the most popular dressings:
1⁄3 cup Greek-style yogurt (other types will change the texture/flavor)
2 anchovy fillet, mashed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄4 cup parmesan
Salt and Pepper
In a blender, mix all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper at the end to taste.
This recipe is one of my favorite dressings. This recipe can stand up to the strong flavors of steak and arugula:
Spicy Thai Dressing
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 cup canola oil
1⁄4 cup rice vinegar
1⁄2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 clove garlic clove(s)
Mince garlic (add more or less to taste). In a jar, with a lid, place all ingredients and shake vigorously until well blended. Serve on salad or as a marinade. Adjust red pepper to taste.
The final dressing is fun for the kids. Fresh strawberries from the garden or the farmer's market make this dressing pop. Add it to salad with a tangy cheese like feta or goat cheese, the tanginess of the cheese and sweetness of the strawberries go well together.
5 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1⁄4 cup olive oil (grapeseed oil is nice and clean tasting and would work well)
1 tablespoon honey
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Place the strawberries in a blender and coarsely chop. Add honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pulse the blender until mixed. Then with the blender running, add the oil until the dressing is emulsified. Toss the dressing with the greens then top with the rest of your ingredients. This dressing was good with a salad with apples and goat cheese, too.
• Amanda Skiba is passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at www.stuffurface.wordpress.com.