Spice-Infused Summer Sides

with Suzanne Klein
July 26, 2013

Last month, we explored simple syrups as a way to infuse sophisticated flavors into a variety of summer sips. This month, we’re infusing all kinds of spices and seasonings into classic summertime sides.

Carolina Citrus Vinaigrette

Nothing says summer like a refreshing salad. And how you dress that salad can make all the difference between a decent salad and a truly delicious one. Most salad dressings contain three base ingredients: an acid, a fat and seasoning. Acids are usually vinegars or citrus juices. Fats are usually some type of oil or dairy product. Seasonings can include a spice blend, individual spices, fresh herbs and aromatics, or prepared condiments like mustards, soy sauce and Worcestershire.

Salad dressings can be broken down into two basic categories:

1. Vinaigrettes are typically an emulsion of 3 parts oil (as the fat) to 1 part acid, blended with herbs, spices and even sweeteners for seasoning. Playing around with the fat to acid ratios can yield a more tangy dressing (using more acid) or a more mild dressing (using more oil).

2. Creamy dressings are also an emulsion of fat and acid but typically use a dairy component (like buttermilk, sour cream or mayonnaise) as the fat, blended with a bit of acid and seasoning.

In either case, you can think about salad dressings as marinades or finishing sauces for a salad. And just like marinades and sauces, you can infuse a dressing to create any flavor you’d like by slightly adjusting the ingredients. For example:

The key to changing up the flavor of any traditional summer side is to start with the dressing. Here are a few of our favorite dressing recipes to help you get started:

Curry Vinaigrette: You can make this as mild or hot as you like depending on which variety of Yellow Curry you use. With a dash of sesame oil and a burst of black sesame seeds, this is a great way to add Asian flair to traditional summer sides, like coleslaw, potato salad or chicken salad.

Lavender Vanilla Vinaigrette: Lavender Vanilla Bean Sugar is the star of the show in this sweet dressing that works great on grains, greens and even grilled fruit.

Carolina Citrus Vinaigrette: This sweet and smoky dressing features orange juice, honey and our Cape Hatteras Smoked Seafood Seasoning. It’s delicious over your favorite spinach salad and gives a special Southern coastal twist to grilled fish, shrimp or scallops.

Smoked Black Pepper Ranch Dressing

Black & Bleu Cheese Dressing: Cook County Charcoal Seasoning gives this not-so-traditional blue cheese dressing its cool blue-ish tint and sophisticated smoky taste. It can be used to dress up potato salad or as a dip for your favorite grilled veggies or chicken wings.

Smoked Black Pepper Ranch Dressing: This is a sophisticated ranch with a roasted, toasted flavor that comes from our smoked peppercorns and skillet-toasted garlic, coriander and mustard seeds.

Achiote Avocado Dressing: The featured dressing in our Gazpacho Salad, this is a great way to create a creamy but dairy-free dressing that can be used to garnish your favorite farmers market greens.

These are just a few of our recommendations, but feel free to get creative in the kitchen! Mix and match: Try a smoky vinaigrette for your chicken salad, a curry vinaigrette for your potato salad, a homemade ranch dressing for your pasta salad and an avocado dressing for your seafood salad. When you start with a delicious dressing, it’s hard to mess up your summer salad.

P.S. We’d love to hear what you do with these recipes. Click on the “Reviews” tab in any of our online recipes to rate the recipe and leave your comments. Or submit any original recipe ideas you have using Savory’s seasonings to testkitchen@savoryspiceshop.com.

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