Before chain restaurants and bottled dressings, classically-trained chefs prided themselves (and their restaurants) on their unique house dressing recipes. Somewhere along the culinary time line, the term “house dressing,” became a code word for “bottled Italian.” With consumers demanding real food without artificial flavors or preservatives, updated French classics, including house dressings, are again being asked for by name.
So what makes house dressing so special? It’s a flavor that can’t be bottled, mass produced or easily recreated – a delicious mystery that compels you to ask for it again and again.
Most house salad dressing recipes begin with four basic ingredients: finely minced shallot, oil and vinegar of your choice, and Dijon-style mustard. From this base, you can enhance with juice reductions, brown or granulated sugar, dried fruits, flavored creams, vegetable purees, mayonnaise, sour cream and a seemingly endless combination of herbs and spices.
What’s your favorite kind of salad dressing? Try making it at home this week with your own unique spin and tell us about your results. Or, if you need some inspiration, try our frisee salad with orange-fig dressing recipe.
Frisee salad with orange-fig dressing recipe
- 3 dried black mission figs
- 1 cup orange juice
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 sprigs red frisee
- 4 sprigs white frisee
- 4 small bunches butter lettuce
- 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
- In a small saucepan, heat figs, orange juice, orange zest and juice over medium heat. Bring to boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand one hour. Strain mixture and return juice to pan; reserve figs. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat and reduce until thick, about four minutes. Remove from heat; set aside. Chop figs; set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, orange-fig juice reduction, mustard, shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Gather lettuces into four bundles and place on chilled plates. Drizzle dressing over greens; garnish with figs, goat cheese and sunflower seeds.