With spring lettuce and all variety of greens enjoying their salad days now, it's a good time to think about how to dress them up right.
And that doesn't have to mean reaching for the nearest bottle.
Making a homemade salad dressing is not difficult, and the fresh taste is always worth the small effort required.
Chef Mark Kent, an instructor at the University of Akron's School of Hospitality Management, said making salad dressing from scratch is one of the first techniques budding chefs learn when they begin their classes.
"It's an extremely simple process," he said, noting that a basic vinaigrette is simply two parts oil whisked into one part vinegar, with the seasonings of your choice added.
In addition to freshness, Kent said it's more economical to make your own salad dressing.
"You can control what goes in it and make it as healthy as you want. From a health standpoint, and also a cost standpoint, it's worth it for two to three minutes of work, at the most," he said.
Making a dressing from scratch encourages a cook to be creative and to work with the flavors of the current season. Change the herbs and spices added to a dressing, and you can change its flavor profile from Italian to French to Asian or Middle Eastern, depending on the type of salad being dressed.
Here are a variety of recipes for made-from-scratch salad dressings, from an easy red wine vinaigrette to a rich and decadent creamy Gorgonzola, which can also substitute as a great dip for raw vegetables.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 ounces red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herbs
6 ounces olive oil
ADD garlic and mustard to bowl. Measure in vinegar. Add salt, sugar and pepper. Whisk ingredients together until salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in fresh herbs.
WHISK in oil in a steady stream until well blended. Adjust seasoning to taste for salt and pepper.
Makes about 1 cup. Adapted from www.epicurious.com.
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste) sauce, well stirred
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced