Monday, March 5, 2012

Spicy Sesame Dressing

There are many things that I am grateful for in my life.  First and foremost would be my family and friends.  That goes without saying (but it certainly is nice to say it everyone in a while).  But I realize how lucky I am to have so many of the little things that I take for granted every day.  Today I am feeling grateful for them all...

...the California sunshine... little garden where I can grow food to make meals out of and still have enough to share with friends...

...the quiet few minutes when my little one is watching "Curious George"... very handy, if not slightly over-ambitious husband...

...Tony, the appliance miracle worker, who fixed my 20 year old range so that it works better than ever...

...this little blog, a place that is all my own...
...finally figuring out how to reproduce a salad dressing that I have been working on for years... mother, who came up with the idea for the dressing in the first place.

My mom started making this salad dressing from a little packet of salad dressing mix years and years ago.  You know the kind- you can make your Italian dressing by just adding oil and vinegar or ranch dressing with some sour cream and buttermilk.  Well this one stared out as something called Oriental Sesame Dressing.  My mom, being the wonderful cook that she is, couldn't very well simply follow the directions.  She added her own mix of oils, spices and condiments until she had something that was quite her own.  But it still relied on the packet of mix as the base for the flavors. 

Over the years the company stopped making that particular dressing mix.  At first, I could only find it in certain stores.  Then only 1 store in town carried it and I would actually send packets to my mom because she couldn't find it at all.  Then it was gone completely and I was lost for what to do to replace it.  It's the dressing on my family's favorite salad and we couldn't go without.  I tried several brands of bottled dressing and they just didn't cut it.  I tried recipe after recipe with mixed results, but never quite hitting the nail on the head.  Until now.  All those years of tinkering with different recipes finally paid off in a big way.  Whew!  It's a good thing too, because my garden is full of lettuce and carrots.

Spicy Sesame Dressing
My favorite way to use this dressing is over a salad with grilled chicken.  You'll need good, sturdy greens to stand up to the dressing, a baby lettuce mix will not do.  I like a mix of greens that are mild along with some that are on the spicy or even bitter side, like romaine, mache, frisee, and red leaf.  Sliced carrots and cucumbers work well in the salad if you have them, but please follow my advice and slice an apple over top.  It doesn't really matter what variety, they all work well.  I think I could skip everything else and just dip apple slices into the dressing and be perfectly happy.

1/2 cup mayonaise (if you want to go light on calories, try using greek yogurt)
1 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder (if you like spicy, you can add up to a 1/2 tsp more)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for one week.

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