Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fridge Door Project - Italian Dressing

In my mission of replacing my fridge door items with homemade ones, I've been wondering how I was going to pull off a good salad dressing replacement. Other people make salad dressings I enjoy but I've never made one myself that I'm satisfied with. Usually they're too runny for me. It's the consistency I can't get right. Last week, I noticed one of our grocery stores carrying a new line of all-natural salad dressings. Every ingredient listed on the back was familiar (except for the always mysterious "natural flavors"). They also had an unexpected ingredient: xanthan gum. I know xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and I already had some at home in the freezer. I use it to make a vegan butter substitute. It's not cheap, but a little goes a loooong way. A quick search on the google machine revealed several salad dressing recipes that used xanthan gum. It was good to read some examples of how to use it, but unfortunately none of those dressings appealed to me. Seth had also already requested Italian dressing. So another quick google search later and I had thousands of basic Italian dressing recipes...minus the xanthan gum. Time to glean what I could from what I had found and then strike out on my own.

Xanthan gum isn't cheap, but I've never used more than a teaspoon in any one recipe. 

I started by making an basil garlic salt. Don't know how to make an herbed garlic salt? It's easy. Pile up the herbs, garlic clove, and salt on a cutting board and keep mincing and mashing until it's tiny, crumbly, and combined. You can use this for all sort of other dishes. A few days ago I made a basil garlic salt to mix into dumplings I was making.

Note to self: wash the turmeric from a previous project off of the cutting board before taking blog pictures. 

One trick I learned from my internet research is to combine the xanthan gum to an equal amount of oil before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. The oil won't dissolve the gum but it will help it to disperse evenly, instead of clumping, when added to the liquid.

If you want to learn from my experience, refrain from tasting the xanthan gum/oil combo. It doesn't taste bad. Its doesn't actually taste like anything. But it sticks to your tongue and the roof of your mouth for an hour.
 Now combine all your ingredients in the food processor. I added all the liquids first, the herbed salt and dried herbs next, and the xanthan/oil combo last. Don't know if it matters, but that's what I did. Turn on the food processor and give everything a whirl until its fully combined.

So now, be honest. Which would you rather have on your salad? This...

...or this? This was the perfect consistency. It coated a spoon without dripping off or being too thick and gloppy. Next time I might try to use all fresh herbs. We'll see. 

Italian Dressing
This recipe is so easy to switch around to fit your taste. Change the herbs. Change the type of oil. Change the type of vinegar. Replace some of the water with fruit juice or tomato juice. The possibilities are endless. 

1 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp xanthan gum

Pile the basil, garlic clove, and salt together on a cutting board. Mince them together, combining them until they are finely chopped and form a crumbly herbed salt. In a small bowl, mix the xanthan gum with 1 tsp of the olive oil. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, adding the xanthan/oil combo last. Process until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour into a salad dressing container or jar and keep in the fridge.

1 comment:

  1. Yay for you - great job! I love making my own salad dressings. I don't like thin either - for thickeners I use: tahini, miso paste (for Asian), mashed black beans or sour cream (Spanish), or even cream cheese (makes a dreamy creamy balsamic!).