I remember when a salad was only iceberg lettuce, a few discs of thinly sliced cucumbers, carrots, onions and tomatoes with either a Thousand Island or vinaigrette dressing. Caesar salad was the occasional treat we looked forward to.
Today, there are just so many choices.
Here’s an interesting list of salad dressings sold in stores and my serving suggestions, in case you wish to make fancier salads in a jiff!
Dizon Farms (tel. 8867779)—aside from its wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, it also has interesting salad dressings:
Mangosteen Balsamic Vinaigrette—light, subtly sweet, a tad tart, peppery. Serve with greens mixed with arugula, top with quesong puti or feta, walnuts and grapes.
Tamarind Vinaigrette—delicious, served with greens capped with pomelo, sliced shallots fresh or fried, cucumbers and snipped coriander. Cap with grilled prawn or two. It should make very good dipping sauce for grilled squid, liempo or inihaw na manok. Just add a bit of chilies.
Adobo Vinaigrette—top your choice of greens with chicken liver pan-fried in a bit of olive oil and butter. Add roasted apples, maybe raisins and thinly sliced shallots.
Oriental Salad Dressing—dice sashimi-grade tuna and chill. Just before serving, put a bit of the dressing in a bowl; quantity should be enough to coat tuna. To dress, add a bit of wasabi, Lee Kum Kee fine chili sauce or chili powder, to taste; mix well. Toss tuna in the dressing and serve over a bed of lettuce. Garnish with Korean or Japanese sesame-flavored nori flakes.
Thousand Island—the ubiquitous dressing brings you back to your childhood. If you are not of our generation and wondering what our dressing used to taste like, this is it, though this one tastes more moderne than ours did.
Goolai Salads and Dressings (tel. 6471205) is made specifically with the Filipino palate in mind.
Creamy Mango—to me, is akin to melted mango ice cream, but with a tinge of vinegar and salt. I wonder how many calories this has? Try mixing a bit of wasabi in the dressing; adjust to taste. Serve with shredded kani and cucumbers, topped with tobiko and shredded nori. Also a nice dipping sauce for fried seafood dumplings.
Caesar—just as we like it, thick with a kick. Loads of garlic and anchovies! Use romaine, finish with shaved parmesan and croutons. Serve with grilled chicken breast or tenderloin.
Creamy Garlic goes with just about anything. Top mixed greens of choice with batter-fried seafood. How to make it: mix ½ cup each cornstarch and flour; ½ tsp baking powder; 1 tsp each salt, garlic and onion powder. Whisk in ½ cup each of cold soda water and fresh milk. Mix well. Wash and wipe seafood dry. Dredge seafood in flour, shake off excess and dip in batter. Adjust batter consistency by adding ice cubes, if too thick. Deep fry in hot oil until golden.
Raspberry Vinaigrette— perfect with arugula, mixed greens, dry roasted walnuts and a generous slice of bleu d’Auvergne or chevre cheese from Santis.
Gourmet Farms (tel. 0920-9031346) came up with lettuce chips that turn its dressings into dips.
Herbed Cheese Dressing—I like this dressing with endives and nuts and maybe some roasted pears to finish the salad off.
Sicilian—this one makes you hungry just by its smell. Rich mayo-based. Aside from salad dressing, use it as sauce for any grilled white fish fillet. Season fish with salt, pepper and lemon just before grilling or pan-frying in olive oil. It’s so tasty—an aromatic garden bursting with flavors in your mouth. Or top your salad with grilled chicken breast and serve this as dressing.
Balsamic Vinaigrette—perfect body and consistency, slightly sweet, tangy. Also use as dip for hot, crusty bread by grating Parmesan and forming a mound. Beneath the cheese, pour vinaigrette, add a light drizzle of fruity olive oil and a few twists of black pepper just before serving.
Rustan’s Gourmet to Go (tel. 8981269 or 6666682) ready-to-eat salads—The freshness of the greens and of every ingredient, the attention to detail (every chicken breast, bacon bit, blue cheese, avocado, crouton—cut to the same size) and the generous portions—the amount of work they put in every pack is commendable.
Le Gourmet Salad is a must-try—mixed greens topped with dried cranberries, whole chunky walnuts, blue cheese and croutons. Its cranberry vinaigrette is fruity with slightly tart finish.
Other delicious Gourmet to Go dressings:
Ginger Miso dressing tastes clean—a light and refreshing dressing of young ginger with a burst of citrus
Honey Mustard is sublime, the pungency of the mustard and the sweetness of the honey come in perfect harmony. It is one of the best honey mustards I’ve tried.
Mustard Celery Seed—perfect to pair with watercress or arugula mix with balled fresh fruits.