Store Cupboard Salad Dressings

I always know Summer is coming by the amount of vinegar and oil being added much more regularly to my shopping basket. The minute the weather picks up and the new produce comes into season, I gorge on fresh vegetables and have a constant rotation of simple dressings that add flavour and interest. 

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my go to recipes and a few tips for getting great results in a quick and simple way. Keeping the cupboards stocked with a few basics means you can knock together a healthy and tasty dish in just a few minutes. 

Tips for easy, yummy dressings:

Jars- I keep pesto jars, jam jars and spice jars with screw on lids. That way I can pop my ingredients in, screw on the lid and give it all a vigorous shake. It's really quick, not at all messy and any leftovers can be popped in the fridge for the rest of the week.

Ratios- The rule of thumb here is 3 parts oil to one part acid. You can mix things up by adding herbs, mustard or garlic but this basic ratio will yield a good dressing every time. 

Oil- I like to use cold pressed Olive Oil or at a push, extra virgin oil. I do use some of the nut oils like sesame from time to time but I don't think you can really go wrong with Olive Oil. 

Acid- Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, cider, white wine) or lemon fall into this category. I have been known to use limes but that pushes us into the fancy pants dressing range and that's a conversation for another day. 

Crush- When adding garlic or shallots, I like to use the flat of my knife to smash them along with a little sea salt. This helps grind them up and break them down further so you don't get that blast of onion or garlic that leaves you breathing your salad over people for the rest of the day. 

Mellow- If you are adding onion or garlic, try to allow 20 minutes for the garlic or onion to sit in the oil. This softens and mellows it a bit, infusing into the oil. 

Timing- Always try to add dressing right before you serve to avoid soggy greens. 

Store Cupboard Dressings for Salads and Vegetables

Store Cupboard Dressings for Salads and Vegetables

My go to recipes:

Jamie Oliver's Yoghurt Dressing- This one is perfect for that creamy dressing craving you have and a healthier option too. My addiction to sharp, unsweetened live full fat yoghut pays off here. Delicious. 

Whole Food's Simple Vinaigrette- I love this one for a more complex dressing over just oil and vinegar. I keep a range of herbs in a tin bath in the garden and just snip a handful of what I feel like that day. Basil with griddled asparagus and halloumi is a must!

Simple Lemon Vinaigrette- Summer is here so it's time to stock up on about a million lemons. Trust me on this tip, nothing bad every came of too many lemons (see this post on lemon and lime curd if you don't believe me!)

Chinese Grandma's Balsamic Vinaigrette- I love the taste of honey with the kick from mustard on this one. This is probably my go to on any given day. Balsamic vinegar just lifts vegetables to a whole new level!

 

So now the real question is, what salads and vegetables are you currently gorging on? I feel a trip to the farmer's market coming on!

New Year Calm and Clarity

When it comes to getting a feel for the emotional state I'm in, you need look no further than the kitchen most days. If the sides are brimming with tins of baked goods, the fridge is bursting with fresh seasonal ingredients, then I'm feeling peachy. If I've slammed oven chips on the table and realised the fish fingers are not even defrosted? Things are bleak and it's best to give me a moment to put things right again. 

baking clutter
lemon zesting

New Year brought the realisation that I need more time for me in 2015. I am tired and I just need to indulge in some good food making and eating before strapping my walking boots back on and journeying into new adventures. As a result my kitchen is a den of activity right now- lemons are being used everywhere (always a good sign) and there's been some pretty special lunches and dinners. 

dressing in a bottle
roasted jerusalem artichokes

I've bee playing around with new to me recipes like this one for roasted Jerusalem artichokes but I've also been on something of a mission....

seeds and nuts

It's got me twice in a week...

dried fruit an nuts

and I'm not there yet.....

breakfast bars

The PERFECT breakfast bar! I've been using up dried fruits, seeds, nuts and oatmeal from the cupboard but I've still not found just the right mixture that I'm craving. I want seedy and nutty, not heavily sugary and not crumbly. What's your favourites? 

Green Soup

I'm fairly sure that my cravings run a little differently to other people. While I'm in no doubt that there are many who understand certain food fixes, mine run deeper and stronger than your average chocolate-bar-on-the-run kind of deal. When it comes to food cravings, I get a little.... obsessive. 

Blue cheese, the craving culprit

Blue cheese, the craving culprit

It started with blue cheese. I had a sudden thought about blue cheese: its white creamy texture with chalky, flaky blue mould that makes it sour and sharp all at once. I love it. Then I started thinking about its appearance: the colour of the mould and I suddenly had to have green soup. I pondered making some Broccoli and Stilton Soup but I realised I wanted MORE green. I jumped from mould, to sharp, to green to MORE GREEN. My stomach demanded all these thoughts be heard. 

I also can't get behind smooth soups. For example, I find it really hard to muster the same enthusiasm for a parsnip puree over a chunky summer minestrone. Every recipe I found for Broccoli and Stilton called for potatoes to be added to thicken the smoothness. I wasn't ok with that. I rummaged around and settled on my own spin that shall henceforth be known as Green Soup in this house. 

There's lot of greens that make for good soup. I'm a sucker for a good celery base and eyeballed some Kale in my fridge that was intended for smoothies later in the week. Go with your gut. Think Green. Think Cheesy. Let me know if you enjoy this!

Green Soup

You will need-

  • 2 tbsp good oil (I used cld pressed Olive oil)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 knob butter
  • 1l low salt vegetable stock
  • 1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 100g approx of Spinach, roughly chopped
  • 150g approx of blue cheese (I used Castello this time), crumbled
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. 
  2. Add the celery, broccoli stalks and the butter. Stir until melted, then cover with a lid. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid.
  3. Pour in the stock and cook for 5 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the rest of the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
  5. Add in the spinach for another 5 minutes. 
  6. Strain off stock, being careful to reserve this liquid and add about half of the solid vegetables to a blender and pulse till lightly chopped but not smooth. Return all the vegetables to the pan and stir the reserved stock back in too. You should have a medium lumpy soup if you're as finicky as I am. 
  7. Stir in the blue cheese, allowing a few lumps to remain. Season with black pepper and serve.
Cheap sliced bread for toast optional. 

Cheap sliced bread for toast optional.