While some people enjoy salads undressed, others turn to homemade or prepared dressings to enhance the salad and bask in the flavors that bring out the best in the vegetables. Personal preference is so diverse when it comes to salad dressings.
As children, most of us were introduced to traditional salad dressings made with oil and vinegar. But what if you wanted to leave the fat and calories of those oily dressings behind and compose those lighter in calories yet add a flavor dimension that makes eating a salad pure joy.
Turning to nature's bounty makes it easy to dress a salad with simple ingredients and indulge in a gastronomic explosion of splendid flavor. The key to making this dressing taste sensational is using fresh ingredients that are naturally sweet. Another important element is purchasing good-quality balsamic vinegar. That doesn't mean spending a month's salary for a bottle, but looking for vinegar that's not watery. Most desirable is a balsamic vinegar that has good body and appears slightly thicker than water.
This pungent, pleasingly sweet dressing is especially tasty on a salad that contains chunks or slices of fresh or dried fruit, raisins, or sweet vegetables like jicama.
STRAWBERRY ORANGE DRESSING
Yield: about 2 3/4 cups
1 cup fresh-squeezed Valencia orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
Place all the ingredients into the blender and blend on high speed for 40 to 60 seconds. Use a funnel to pour the dressing into a narrow-neck bottle for easy serving. Refrigerated, the dressing will keep for 1 week.