Friday, April 27, 2012

something rather addicting

Our family absolutely loves Italian food and some of them thought me crazy when I canned up 28 quarts of fresh tomatoes last year.  They thought me even crazier when I said that it probably wouldn't last until next year's harvest.  I hate to admit I was right, but we are down to our last 8 or 9 jars which will not last until this August when we get tomatoes from a local grower.  I dream of growing tomatoes, but unless I build a hoop house, like our dear friends, I will not see tomatoes here on the coast - we are just too damp and cold through the summer months.

Since moving to the far northern reaches of California, which is entirely void of most metropolitan restaurant chains some of the family has been going through severe withdrawals.  One of our favorite restaurants to visit on special occasions was Olive Garden.  It never seemed to fail that everyone ordered the soup and salad.  I have a recipe that nearly replicates the Sausage Toscano soup which everyone has enjoyed, but it's the salad dressing that I have yet to figure out.

Until. . . .
the other day when I was perusing around pinterest and I came across this recipe called "Olive Garden Salad Dressing the Traditional Foods Way."

Since, I am working on cooking foods in a more traditional manner my interest was piqued!

Olive Garden Salad the Traditional Foods Way:
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
  • 1/3 c. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tb. honey
  • 2 tb. each of grated Parmesan cheese and Romano cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice
  • dash of salt and pepper
Pulse all ingredients in a blender until thoroughly combined and cheeses are finely minced. Drizzle over a green salad to taste and voila! No preservatives or corn syrup here!

I wanted to be the first guinea pig to try this, since we have pretty observant food critics in our home.  At first, it had a very strong lemon/vinegar taste, but over the last few days while it has settled into it's flavors in the refrigerator, it's turned into something that is quite delicious.  While it still does not match the Olive Garden dressing I remember so fondly, I highly recommend making this dressing.  It's flavors sneak up on you and it has a very nice creamy consistency.

Just so that you can compare recipes, here's another Olive Garden Salad Dressing recipe from a blog called Everyone's Gotta Eat.  Her ingredients will make any traditional foodie just cringe.  Even through my own inexperience I could see that most of the ingredients were not healthy.

Salad Dressing like Olive Garden's
1/2 Cup white vinegar
1/3 Cup water
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
1/4 Cup corn syrup
2 1/2 TBSP grated parmesan/romano cheese
2 TBSP pectin
1 egg- beaten
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1 pinch dried oregano
1 pinch red pepper flakes

--Combine all ingredients in blender on medium speed for 30 seconds to a minute. Blending well is key to a smooth, thick dressing. Under-blending will result in a runnier dressing. Chill 2-4 hours shaking occasionally. Keeps for 2 weeks, approx.

Happy Salad Eating!


donna said...

Thanks for sharing all these recipes. I love having new recipes to try out. Enjoy your day and God bless.

Mountain Home Quilts said...

WOW. That looks good. I can taste the salad and breadsticks now! As if Mike has nothing else to do, get him on that hoop house!! :)

Renee Lindsay said...

A dressing like Olive Garden's? Mike must be in heaven!!!!