Wedge Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing

Wedge Salad | Pinky's PantryWedge Salad is a typical salad served at classic American steak houses as a starter to your meal. It’s traditionally served with crumbled blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, but blue cheese isn’t one of my kids’ favorite cheeses. I love wedge salad, though, so here’s a version I make for them without any blue cheese in it. If you find you’re really missing the blue cheese flavor, go ahead and sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on your salad. It’s all good!

WEDGE SALAD

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 slices sturdy white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • garlic salt, to taste (optional)
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • chives, minced (for garnish)
  1. Cut the lettuce into 4 wedges and place them in the refrigerator to keep cold until ready to use.
  2. Fry the bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
  3. Dice the white bread into small cubes, a little less than a half-inch big.
  4. Melt butter or margarine in a skillet and fry bread cubes, stirring often, until golden and crispy.
  5. Season bread cubes with garlic salt to taste, if desired.
  6. Assemble the salad by placing one wedge of lettuce on each of 4 salad plates.
  7. Pour some dressing over each wedge.
  8. Top with a little tomato, onion, bacon, and croutons.
  9. Garnish with minced chives, if desired.

BACON BUTTERMILK DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  1. Place all ingredients into bowl of a food processor and process until combined.
  2. Chill until ready to serve.

NOTE:  Dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled in the fridge.

Summer Berry and Chicken Salad

Summer Berry and Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
Summer has kicked in with a vengeance! Boy is it Hot!….. with a capital H!  We’ve been experiencing some triple digit days these past couple of weeks. Believe me, 108 degrees is no picnic! This kind of heat makes me think of long, tall drinks, big bowls of ice cream, and cool refreshing salads.

This salad is a play on my friend Cyndi’s winter fruit salad. I thought why not do the same thing for the summer except using fresh berries? I had some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken so I added it in for some healthy protein. The salad made a great lunch served with some of No. 1’s homemade french bread and a cool glass of crisp white wine. Mm… mm… mm…..Summer Berry and Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry

SUMMER BERRY AND CHICKEN SALAD WITH LEMON POPPY SEED DRESSING

Dressing:

  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
  1. Combine lemon juice, sugar, onion, mustard and salt in the container of a food processor or blender; process until smooth.
  2. With the machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream and process until thick and smooth.
  3. Add the poppy seeds and pulse a few times to mix.

Salad:

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup pineapple tidbits (or pineapple chunks cut in half)
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
  1. Place the lettuce, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and nuts in a large salad bowl.
  2. Pour the poppy seed dressing over the salad.
  3. Toss to coat evenly.

 

Copycat La Bou Creamy Dill Dressing

Dill Dressing | Pinky's Pantry
La Bou is a local bakery cafe chain. They opened their first store in 1981 and it was a huge success with people lined up outside to buy their delicious handmade croissants. Since then, they’ve expanded to open several stores in the greater Sacramento area serving wonderful salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and espresso drinks. But what they’ve really become famous for is something that’s not even listed as a choice on their menu. I’m talking about their baguette bread that they serve with a creamy dill dipping sauce. I know it sounds weird to dip slices of bread in what is essentially a salad dressing, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It is so addictive that every time you go there, you’ll find yourself ordering a full or half baguette with dill sauce to take home.

Anyway, it’s with extreme sadness that I report that our local La Bou in town has just closed its doors. Everyone at work was so dismayed to hear the news. They were right down the street from the office and were a favorite lunch time spot. I can’t understand why they closed. To mark this sad occasion, I’m making a copycat version of their dill dressing for the family to eat with some baguette bread this evening. I don’t know how La Bou makes their actual dressing, but this tastes just like it and will hit the spot whenever you need a La Bou fix.

COPYCAT LA BOU CREAMY DILL DRESSING

  • 1½ cups mayonnaise
  • 1 pkg. Hidden Valley buttermilk ranch dressing mix
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, minced
  • 1¼ cups water
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
    (If you don’t want to mince the dill by hand, you could place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until dill is finely minced.)
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE:  If you make this in a food processor, the dip will seem frothy and bubbly immediately after mixing, but don’t worry. The bubbles will settle down and disappear after the dip has sat for a while. It will also seem very watery at first, but will thicken a bit in the refrigerator. La Bou’s dipping sauce is really pretty thin but if you want yours to be thicker, feel free to cut down on the amount of water you add.

Basic Vinaigrette

Basic Vinaigrette | Pinky's Pantry
A good vinaigrette is a simple thing to make. Sure it’s easy to pick up a bottle of dressing at the grocery store, but they’re usually high in sodium and lord knows what other chemical additives or preservatives. It’s much healthier to just whisk up your own fresh batch and it really doesn’t take that long to do.

The classic ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1, meaning 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. You can then vary it in a myriad of ways. You could use different kinds of oil like walnut oil or even ordinary salad oil. You could use different vinegars (one of my favorite things to use is seasoned rice vinegar) or replace the vinegar entirely with a citrus juice like lemon or grapefruit. You could add all sorts of flavor enhancers besides the classic minced shallot, like minced garlic, or red onion. You could also add an herb or a blend of herbs like oregano, basil, or thyme. Give it an Asian flair by adding a little soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced ginger. And who does’t love a good raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette? The possibilities are endless!

Armed with a good vinaigrette, you can turn any lettuce into a bright, perky salad, or enhance the flavor of meat, chicken or fish with a little marinating time, or even wake up plain veggies and bring them to glorious, tangy life!

BASIC VINAIGRETTE

  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil or other oil of your choice
  • ¼ cup vinegar of your choice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. add-in, like minced shallot or red onion, herbs like tarragon or chives, even a tablespoon of jam works
  1. Whisk vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and any add-ins together in a glass bowl. You can adjust the sugar, salt, and pepper, adding more or less to your taste.
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking constantly.
  3. Taste. If vinaigrette seems too sharp, whisk in a little more oil or even water.
  4. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  5. Whisk again before using.

NOTE:  In lieu of a bowl and a wire whisk, you could place all the ingredients into a jar, screw the lid tightly closed, and shake well. You could also use a blender which works especially well if you’re making a fruit vinaigrette that needs pureed fruit, like raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette.

Vinaigrettes can be made ahead of time. Place in an airtight container, cover, and keep chilled in refrigerator for up to one week.

Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing | Pinky's Pantry
In the early 1920’s, there was a play called “The Green Goddess” that was a hugely successful hit. The lead role in the play was held by George Arliss, a prominent British actor who moved to the United States during the turn of the century. The story goes that Chef Philip Roemer, the executive chef at the beautiful Palace Hotel in San Francisco, created the salad dressing for a banquet held at the Palace in 1923 in honor of George Arliss. Chef Roemer named it Green Goddess Dressing after Arliss’ play.

The delicious, creamy salad dressing quickly became famous, gaining popularity all through the 1920’s and well into the 70’s when it suddenly began disappearing from the restaurant scene. I don’t remember where I got my recipe from, nor do I know how close in flavor it is to Chef Roemer’s original recipe which I understand contained anchovies and vinegar. Still, this is a delicious dressing and is well worth trying. It makes a great dip for chips or crudités, too.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. firmly packed fresh dill leaves
  • 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Chill at least one hour before serving.

NOTE:  This dressing may be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator.