As I’ve mentioned before, my family gets sick of salad pretty quickly during the summer. We don’t mind eating it as a side dish fairly often but eating it as the main course has to be resorted to sparingly. I try to make it interesting by laying out a salad bar with lots of toppings & add-ins, but I still can’t make salad for dinner more than once or twice a month. One of the things I do to make salads more interesting is so simple it’s ridiculous… I make my own dressings. The decision to do so was two-fold. The first reason is that we were tired of the boring, often harsh, cookie cutter flavors of store bought dressings. I’m sure you’ve guessed the other reason if you’ve read more than one post here on The Humble Food Snob. I’ve been pretty vocal about all the nastiness found in store bought… well… just about everything that isn’t found in the fresh foods departments. Salad dressings are some of the worst offenders. Go to your fridge and really look at the ingredients. Unless you buy one of very few (comparatively speaking) organic brands, odds are what you will find is a very long list of very nasty ingredients that should never be available for consumption. Up until a couple of years ago I never looked because I didn’t want to come to terms with that fact. I thought making my own salad dressings was going to be tricky. I put it off and put it off, convinced that it was beyond me. Finally I’d had enough. I put a bite of salad with store bought French dressing in my mouth and it was so harsh that it hit the spot in the back of my mouth where my salivary glands are and stomped on them. I literally couldn’t chew for a moment. There had to be a better way. So I tried my hand at two dressings initially- our favorites: French and Thousand Island. They were SO good! And SO easy! All you need is more than likely in your fridge and pantry already and all you do is mix and let sit for awhile. How could it be any easier?!

We’ll start with the Thousand Island. This is all you need.

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There is milk in the little cup there on the right. Put it to the side- you may not use it at all. It depends on how the dressing comes out and how thick you want the final product to be. And as for the sweet chili sauce, it’s perfectly acceptable to use sugar instead- or you can use a little of both which is how I make mine. Everything else is pretty mundane. Completely unintimidating! Now mince your onion super fine and put everything in a bowl…

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That really is all that’s supposed to go into thousand Island dressing. Now grab a whisk and mix this together for about 10 seconds. That really is all it takes!

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Now you just have to check the consistency. If you like your salad dressing super thick and more dip like (try dipping chicken tenders in this- it’s amazing!) then you can leave it as is. If you want it to be a little more pourable then add the milk, a little at a time, up to about 1 tablespoon. Let this sit in the fridge for at least a few hours and you’re good to go!

Next up is French dressing. This is NOT the neon orange, sickly-sweet-yet-strongly-sour french dressing you find in the bottle from the store. This is a thick, slightly spicy (which is completely adjustable), mildly sweet dressing that does just as well as a dip for veggies or chicken and a spread for sandwiches as it does for salads. I had already made a batch about 2 weeks ago so what’s pictured below is how it will look after it has been sitting for a little while. Here’s what you need to get started…

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Yes- that is oil behind the ketchup. Canola, to be exact. And you need a full cup of it. French dressing is an emulsion. Don’t be afraid. You can use any light oil you’d like and it’s not as if you’re going to be drinking this stuff by the cupful. It’s not as unhealthy as the food police would have you believe! All you have to do is put all the ingredients except the oil into the blender (or food processor), mix a bit, and then- with the machine running- add the oil in a thin stream until all of it has been added and everything has mixed completely. You CAN do this without a machine! You’ll need to use an old fashioned hand powered egg beater or use a regular old whisk and whisk like mad while adding the oil until everything emulsifies. You end up with a beautiful reddish-orange jar of really excellent French dressing…

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Definitely not your average neon grocery store French Dressing! This has such a smooth flavor you will wonder why you ever bothered buying French! For dinner last night I enjoyed the Thousand Island while my husband stuck with his favorite- the French…

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Now those salads are anything but boring! I love my salads with cheese, dried cranberries and cashews but last night my husband wanted just croutons & cheese. They would have been plain Jane ordinary had it not been for these fantastic homemade dressings! Go ahead- give them a try. They are good for more than just salads too! Try a ham & Swiss sandwich with French or a turkey & Cheddar (or better yet, Brie) sandwich with thousand Island. SO good! And at less than 5 minutes each to make, there’s no excuse not to make your own 🙂

The Recipe, Thousand Island:

1 C Mayonnaise

½ C Ketchup

2 T Sweet Pickle Relish

1 t Worcestershire Sauce

1 t Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

1 t Sugar (or 2 t if omitting Chili Sauce)

1 T Lemon Juice

1 T Milk if needed

2 T Onion, minced VERY fine

½ t Kosher Salt

The Method:

*Combine all ingredients except milk in a medium bowl.

*Whisk until well combined.

*Add milk to think if desired.

*Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

The Recipe, French:

1 C Oil (Light oil of your choice)

1 C Ketchup

½ C Sugar

¼ C Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ C Water

3 t Mustard Powder

2 t Paprika

1 t White Pepper (adjust as necessary, a full 1 t gives this a very small kick)

1 t Garlic Powder

1/2 t Kosher Salt

The Method:

*Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor.

*Mix for 10-20 seconds, or until well combined.

*Using the tube of the food processor or the hole in the lid of the blender, SLOWLY pour the oil in with the machine running. The oil should be a very thin stream running into the machine.

*Run the machine only until all of the oil is incorporated.

*Chill at least 4 hours before serving. Best if chilled overnight.

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