Today while I was busy teaching I got into a discussion on sandwich making. The importance of the right bread and the perfect dressings emerged as my focus.
Sometimes a simple meat and cheese sandwich can be outstanding with the right sauce!
My assistant, Bonnie, got me into chicken wraps with avocado/ranch dressing. Believe me I enjoy the whole avocado, but the dressing is wonderful with a bit of lettuce, tomato, cheese and whatever! For cooks a far distance from a quality grocery store, here’s a tip for you. Purchase individual avocado and guacamole packets and stir them into ranch dressing or mayonnaise/salad dressing.
Salsas have the same appeal. Stir a bit into yogurt, salad dressing or sour cream and it becomes a dip or sauce. Remember there are all kinds of salsas these days including fruit salsas. Make any pasta salads lately? They’re perfect for this time of the year. Make a dressing using some of the mentioned ingredients and you’ve got a unique and creative outcome. Pestos are another quick way to make creative dressings and sauces. My friends, the Bulone’s, have a terrific red pepper pesto sauce. I would make a pasta salad dressing from the red pepper pesto combined with a ranch dressing. For a meat use grilled steak from the weekend. Embellish with blanched broccoli, additional peppers and onions.
Need another example: OK, buckle up, here we go! You make a batch of fruit salsa using strawberries, tidbit pineapple and mango. Stir in a few spices, red onion and a splash of chopped cilantro. Create a honey, lime juice, vinegar and light oil dressing, stirring all ingredients to blend. Prepare pasta, rinse and cool. Now gather chunked turkey or chicken, slivered sugar snap peas, English Walnuts and additional fresh fruit. Take the salsa and create a dressing and combine it over all the ingredients. Once again a week of lunches is complete. It’s unique and just what you need for a refreshing summer dish.
Vinegar Marinates: “You can preserve just about anything in a vinegar base.” Once when I was in Mexico, with my parents, they took me to a rather prestigious Mexican hotel for lunch. They served a ‘huge’ and I mean ‘huge’ bowl of finely chopped onions with a light vinegar base and spices. I’m getting to the marinates, hang on….Anyway when onions are marinated for 15 minutes or more in a vinegar base they become neutralized and the pungent sulfur compounds are drawn out. There is not going to be a great deal of nutritional value left, but you get to eat raw onions! Many restaurants will soak onions in ice water, drain and pat dry before placing on a fresh salad.
Work out a ratio for your favorite marinates and soak a bowl of vegies in them. Add spices that compliment and a new side is born. For example, when I make vinegar and oil bases I like an even ratio of vinegar to oil and then I add just a bit of raw sugar or honey. My assistant likes a higher ratio of vinegar in hers.
My goal today is to bring a bit of interest to a somewhat boring sandwich or salad. And make your warm summer days just a bit more bearable. Have fun creating! Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
PS: These are also great for lunchboxes!
Ranch Dressing Base:
1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half and half to thin
2 tablespoons dry parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon ‘Black Kettle’ (like Lawry’s, less salt)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
This is the base start everyone. You get to add additional spices to the mixture of dry ingredients. Consider teaspoons of paprika, smoked paprika or onion powder for starters. Mix all the dry together and use 1 1/2 tablespoons added to the mayonnaise, sour cream and half and half. It’s also fun to make and use as a gift to friends and family. Kids can even make this at a party and then enjoy snacking on vegetables and ranch dressing!
Like many of you I don’t always have time to make my dressings from scratch. If I’m in a hurry I always reach for Hendrickson’s Original Dressing. This company is based out of St. Charles, Missouri and the balance of the ingredients is excellent for a quick tomato, cucumber and onion dish. It’s also great used in a cold pasta salad.
Red Onion, chopped
Kiwi, strawberry, mango, papaya, pineapple or banana sliced or chunked
Prepare fresh fruits in chunks and slices. Sprinkle lightly with a seasoning salt or even omit. Chop red onion into small pieces and mix into the fruits. Add as much cilantro as you desire along with fresh ground pepper. Shake in a few shots of soy sauce perhaps using the lower sodium options. Serve with homemade chips made from pita or soft burrito shells. Fresh ginger might also be an option for the fruit.
In the original recipe this is served with chicken that has been marinated in soy sauce and crushed pineapple. It’s cooked on the grill and then everything is served with a side of rice.