CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Boo! Scare you? Thought it would. Now that I have Halloween out of my system, I'll set about giving you something to chew on in the way of a salad. Well, actually, not exactly a salad, but three versions of basic balsamic salad dressing, if you feel like doing homemade instead of bottled.
Ever notice how much dressing diners use to top a salad at most salad bars? The finished product seems to resemble a work of art -- a very heavily snow-covered (ranch dressing) Mount Everest of assorted produce.
Studies have shown that when measured, diners actually apply at least 1/4 cup and up of dressing. It's ladled on, making sure every curve and angle of the veggie stack is covered. No bare-naked lettuce, tomatoes and croutons peeking out for them, no siree.
Dietitians advise us to have dressing on the side, and that has proven to be correct. All that's needed is to dip your fork into the dressing then stab a forkful of salad. By the end of the meal, the container holding the dressing looks like it hasn't been touched, but you have been satisfied.
It's still kosher to add dressing directly to a salad if you can keep the portion in perspective.
These homemade dressings come together very easily and quickly. You don't need the high-dollar, aged-in-oak-for-100-years balsamic. There are inexpensive good ones on your everyday grocery shelf.
If you don't make your own fresh from-scratch pesto, it can be accomplished by either purchasing the refrigerated (Buitoni brand recommended) or bottled (generally shelved with the bottled pasta sauces).
I always lift out or pour off the excess oil that rises to the top in the purchased pesto brands. I know it's supposed to be stirred in, but I'm looking for more intense flavor with less fat. In the case of the pesto dressing, the recipe itself has oil.
You may get another scare when you see the calories and calories from fat numbers in the recipes, but remember it comes from olive oil, not cream and sugar.
Basic Balsamic Dressing
Makes 3 tablespoons.
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
WHISK vinegar, pepper and salt.
WHISK in oil until blended and smooth.
SERVE over desired salad or cooked broccoli stalks or asparagus spears.
Nutrition information:Per 1 tablespoon: 130 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, zero milligrams cholesterol, 100 milligram sodium, 1 gram carbohydrates, zero grams fiber, zero grams protein.