Don't ruin your New Year's healthy eating game plan by pouring Creamy Ranch dressing on your good-for-you greens. Just Salad's Executive Chef Laura Pensiero, a nutritionist, cookbook author, dietician and health educator offers these tips and dressing recipes that'll add extra flavor to your salad without the guilt-inducing calories.
• When buying store-bought dressing, select ‘low-fat’ varieties – in general they taste better than their fat-free counterparts and a little fat is good for overall health and keeping your appetite in check.
• When making dressing at home, use natural and flavorful emulsifiers like mustard, low-fat mayo, and fruit and vegetable purees to reduce the need for oil.
Sesame Roasted Onion
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 medium onions (about 6ounces), peeled and quartered
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil or blend (olive/canola)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seedsPreheat the oven to 375˚F.
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Toss the quartered onions in a tablespoon of oil and roast in a small pan, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Combine the onions, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar and cayenne pepper. Puree until smooth. With motor running, slowing drizzle in blend oil until emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir in sesame seeds. Whisk in a bit more water to thin if necessary. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days (add sesame seeds later if you plan on storing for more than 1 day).
HOT TIP: Be sure the onion is well cooked then cooled to room temperature before pureeing with the other ingredients. In general, the longer vegetables are sautéed at moderate temperature, the more sweetness and flavor they’ll add to dressing, soup, stew.
Roasted Red Pepper
4 whole roasted red peppers (peeled and seeded), about 400 grams
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to season
Sweat onion with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in ns pan until caramelized and soft (1/2 cup cooked onion). Blend all ingredients together; with motor running drizzle in remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
HOT TIP: Be sure peppers are slowly roasted, the blistered skin should easily fall off and leave only a sweet intensely flavored pepper behind.
Sweet Pea Tarragon
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 10-ounce box frozen baby peas, thawed (1 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sweat onion with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in nonstick pan until caramelized and soft (1/2 cup cooked onion). Blend all ingredients together; with motor running drizzle in remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
HOT TIP for all dressings: If fat (oil) is used to finish, be sure to blend slowly at the end with motor of food processor or blender on.