There’s something about fall, the crispness, the fresh air – I come alive after dragging through August.
I love salads in the fall, too, for the same reason – the fall flavors just zing with the darker lettuces - I like to load them up with fruits like thinly sliced tart, crisp apple, dried cranberries or cherries, thin slices or dices of pear.
I’ll doll up salads with red onion and mandarin orange, or even roasted sweet potato or root vegetables. Every now and then I’ll sneak in some bacon and hard boiled egg, perhaps with a wilted spinach or lettuce salad.
I like them with shaves of parmesan (yeah, I do trot out the good stuff, now and then, especially when flavor really matters), bits of bleu cheese, feta, or even smoked cheeses.
I’ll bake off or saute my croutons – it just takes a minute or two and they’re wonderful, not nasty little dry things like the bagged or boxed version. Bonus for me, is it is a great way to use left over bread.
Because you use so little of an ingredient when mixing in salads, it’s a great place to go a little high end – and hopefully entice your family to get in their veggies.
I’ll mix up my own dressings to complement the fall flavors, sometimes warm, usually not.
Lately, I’ve been enamored with a recipe for Special Dressing, found in my Mom’s 1955 copy of Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. I’ve never had these old school boiled type dressings that I’ve seen so often in old cookbooks – I suppose they were way out of fashion by the time I was growing up and every table had their bottle of Western.
When so many recipes became prevalent on tv and in magazines and people started making their own, they were so often classics or fancier versions of dressings. I always wanted to try this old fashioned workhorse, and I’m so glad I have. It took about five minutes (plus extra time to chill) - and the surprise is everyone who’s had it has remarked upon it. It complements the fruit in salads very nicely; it’s a little sweet and a little tart. On to the recipes!
Fall Salad with Meta Given’s Special Dressing:
- 1/2 cup Craisins
- Apples – a tart variety, thinly sliced
- Special Dressing
Slice your romaine, allowing about 3/4 to a cup per person for a side salad, sprinkle on your apples and craisins, drizzle with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dressing per person and serve.
Recipe: Special Dressing: makes a cup and 1/2, serving size about 1 1/2 Tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, optional
- 1 cup milk (I used skim, per my pledge!)
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix all dry ingredients in a saucepan, add milk and heat to boiling. Boil gently three minutes, stirring constantly – it will become very thick.
Mix egg and vinegar together in a bowl.
Stir hot mixture into egg vinegar combination. Chill in covered container, preferably overnight.
Money and Time Saving Strategies: Cost for this salad for four with the dressing was about 75 cents.
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
- Mix the dressing the day before – I’ve found this keeps several days in the fridge. I like to use small bottles or jars for items like this: Starbucks Latte bottles are perfect – they have a large mouth that’s easy to fill. (Buy them on sale with a coupon, of course – one of my son’s friends dropped their bottle in my recycle bin, so I retrieved it…ah, a frugal confession!)
- Dressing: Since most of these items are pantry ingredients, see that page if you have a question on pricing. The sugar was 7 cents, the flour, 6 cents, the spices around 5 cents, the milk, 16 cents, the egg 15 cents, vinegar probably about 3 cents. I’m figuring about 52 cents for the dressing, and you’ll have extra left over.
- Lettuce: I really watch for the lettuces on sale: I bought the romaine on sale for $1.35 for a 1 1/2 pound head. We’ve been using it all week – cost for four side salads is about 35 cents.
- Apple: On sale in the fall! Cost apple was around 34 cents.
- Craisins: I usually find for free with coupons. If not, look for dried cherries or cranberries in the bulk bins – they’re pricey, but just a few really dresses up this salad.
Dressing Nutrition: (A serving is about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
Per Serving: 53 Calories; 1g Fat (12.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 27mg Cholesterol; 292mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 0 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
Put Your Own Spin on It:
Meta says, “This dressing is good for potato or macaroni salad, or wherever an oil dressing is not desired.” I’m so used to a mayo type dressing on potato or macaroni salad I’m not sure I could make the leap to these flavors. I do think this would be excellent on an apple/pear fruit salad.
Now, doesn’t this dressing sound better than corn syrup, caramel color, xanthan gum, carrageenan, phosphoric acid, oleoresin, calcium disodium edta, dl alpha tocopheryl acetate?, monosodium glutamate, artificial color, tartaric acid? This compares pretty well to the bottles I pulled out of my fridge and checked tonight.
Discussion: What are a few of your favorite fall salad dressings and combinations? Do you have your own House Special Dressing you whip up?