Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creamy Pesto Parmesan Salad Dressing

Salads need dressings. I mean who wants to eat a salad that doesn't have a good dressing on it. Well maybe someone but certainly not me! Don't get me wrong I love veggies and I love them in various undressed states. But all dressed up in a delicious salad sauce I love them even more.

I have several dressings that I will share on the blog. My french dressing is one I have already shared. This dressing today is something a little bit special. It's inspiration comes from my two places, my childhood and my University days.

When I was about 10 years old Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing hit the market. I can remember the first time I had it. It was at my Uncle Frank and Aunt Martha's house during a family vacation to visit my Big Mama. It was the newest rage amongst the middle class home cooks at the time. for me, it was a revelation in taste. I had always loved creamy dressings but this ranch stuff was something new and special. In fact I love ranch dressing so much that to this day that I will at times still whip up a batch of hidden valley from the packet. It just makes me happy.

So that's one side of the story behind this dressing. The other comes from a restaurant that I worked at in college. Phillip Allen's. Now I have spoken about Phil and how he started his place and how I ended up working there.( see Mushroom soup entry).  I also believe I told you about the wonderful salad dressings he made. His poppyseed dressing was very eighties and VERY good. I am not kidding when I say it's the best I ever have had. And this was the other signature dressing. I of course learned how to make these because I worked in the kitchen as well as waiting on the customers and washing the dishes! But in spite of all the work, it was a great time and a great learning experience. It's where I learned that if you are doing something you love, you rarely feel the compulsion to rush out of work and do something else, because your time is being spent so pleasantly right where you are!

Harrisonburg, Va, where I attended undergrad in the 1980's did not have a lot of restaurants. Or grocery stores for that matter. And my experience with dining out was limited at the time due to having grown up in a family who cooked at home and was always on a budget. So having the opportunity to see what dishes came out of this restaurant's kitchen broadened my perspective on food in general. And I thought I already had a pretty broad one!

I think that's so important for people to have. This broad perspective on food. It's one reason I am glad that American's are so into their food's origin and Cooking as an Art these days. More because of the focus it puts on people's understanding the nutritional value of the food, and the options for what foods are out there more than, the ingredients list of a particular recipe, or the chef's name behind it.

 Let's face it, we have all had Brussels sprouts for example. But whether they were prepared well or not they are still just Brussels sprouts at the end of the day. They are either good a for you food or not. If Daniel makes you Brussels sprouts you'd hope they were good but they are no more or less nutritious than if your Mom made them. But its knowing that they are good for you and CAN be prepared well that makes this shared knowledge of food's value important. Because if your Mom can't cook Brussels sprouts well, you should be able to learn that they can be delicious if made correctly. And you should know that they are good for you. And that is why Food TV., cooking magazines, the foodie movement and even blog's like mine are important. Because they hopefully connect people to good for you foods and tasty ways to prepare them, as well as share the community or family story behind the recipe for them.

So what does all of this have to do with this salad dressing recipe, well nothing really except to say that cooking up a great salad dressing can help get people to eat their veggies and that's as Martha would say...a good thing!

So I give to you the second dressing recipe of this blog. Phillip Allen's Creamy Pesto Parmesan Salad dressing! Enjoy Ya'll.

Creamy Pesto Parmesan Salad Dressing from Phillip Allen's Restaurant

1 cup Mayonaise
1 1/2 cup Buttermilk (low fat variety)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried chives
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black ground pepper
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
water for thinning if needed add by the tablespoon

Combine all ingredients in a deep bowl or jar. Using a hand blender blend till smooth. Or do it old school and combine in a container or jar and shake till combined. Let sit over night to enhance the flavors and enjoy on a crunchy green salad with your choice of yummy toppings and croutons!

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