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Does everyone come back alive in the fall when the air crisps up and cools, I know I do, and it seems salad flavors do, too. 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 even doll them up with red onion and mandarin oranges.

Meta Given's Special Dressing

Meta Given’s Special Dressing

I really love slices of roasted beets, chunks of roasted sweet potato and or any root vegetables. Every now and then I’ll sneak in some bacon and hard-boiled egg, big shaves of Parmesan, or a serious bleu cheese, smoked cheese or goat cheese. Perhaps a few croutons. And nuts, glorious nuts that are so good for you. And, oh yeah, don’t forget the pomegranates.

Those serious flavors, though, seem to call out for a different kind of dressing. Something tangy but smooth…something with a bit more substance than a light vinaigrette.

Meta Givens Special Dressing is one such dressing. I’ve been enamored with this dressing found in my Mom’s 1955 copy of Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. I don’t believe I’ve had any of these old school boiled type dressings until I tried this one – I suppose they were way out of fashion by the time I was growing up and every table had their bottle of Western.

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, too; it’s a little sweet and a little tart.  On to the recipe!

Meta Given’s Special Dressing: makes 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups, 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
  • 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.

I have no concerns about the egg being fully cooked as it is whisked into the extremely hot and steaming mixture. I expect this would keep for a week or two in the fridge, but beyond that, I would simply discard. There is a lot of vinegar which is a great preservative, so perhaps I’m being overly conservative, but I always say better safe than sorry.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • 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.

My Pay Off:

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 bottle 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?

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