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Dress Up That Salad!

Cassy is an avid entertainer, who along with her husband, enjoys having dinner parties, cooking and socializing with friends.

All great meals deserve a great salad!

It's been said that 'no great story starts with a salad,' but I beg to differ. I somehow became the salad queen in my family and grew to understand how providing a great salad to a meal is just as important as that fabulous side dish or scrumptious dessert.

It's true that salads are usually the healthy portion of the meal, but to give them some true importance, they have been part of the meal since ancient times. Foodtimeline.org tells us the word Salad is derived from the Latin sal (salt), which yielded the form salata, meaning 'salted things' such as the raw vegetables eaten in classical times with a dressing of oil, vinegar or salt. Many Greeks believed that raw vegetables easily slipped through the system and did not create obstructions for what followed, therefore should be served first for medicinal purposes. Others reported that the vinegar in the dressing destroyed the taste of the wine, therefore they should be served last. This opinion has maintained to this day and 'when in Rome' your insalata is served at the end of your meal.

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Oh, Just Bring a Salad.

Why Have a Good Salad

How many times have you heard "oh, just bring a salad." We all do it and somehow it minimalizes a really important part of the meal. Vegetables do not have to be boring and with a little effort, you can get the pickiest guest to turn into a lover of your salads. Here's why:

1. HEALTH - Sounds corny, but from the digestive reasons to eating more greens, you will at least know that you are contributing to balancing the meal.

2. SURPRISE - Provide a pleasant surprise to guests and offer another dish besides potatoes they actually want to have more of.

3. MADE - Isn't a salad made for you always better? If all the tearing, chopping and mixing is done for you, it somehow tastes better and guests will automatically enjoy it more because they didn't have to make it.

4. EASY - There are many salads with dozens of ingredients and need preparation just prior to serving. However, it's the one meal item not requiring oven time, and much of it can be prepped ahead of time if necessary.

5. SHINE - You will be the shining star to your group of friends because you took the time to make something unique, develop your own dressing or provide quality ingredients that made your salad earn it's spot on the dinner plate.

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My Go-To Salad Dressing

There are thousands of websites and blogs with salad recipes and dressings, but I'm a big proponent of having one basic dressing recipe for a green salad to make in a pinch.

Just like preparing any food, you will become more adventurous with your recipes and break out of the green salad box, but do become an expert at making one salad really well. You will find there is an art to adding the right amount of seasoning, and dressing, but the more you do, the better you'll become.

More than 20 years ago I asked a local restaurant for their dressing recipe I loved, and I have stuck with it. Using quality ingredients will make for a better flavor, but I don't measure any longer and it's hard to mess it up. For measuring purposes, try this if you'd like for a large serving bowl, and always add a little less or more according to your taste preference:

*3oz good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

*1oz good Balsamic Vinegar (I use infused vinegars as well for a flavor twist)

*1-2 tablespoons of Diced Red Onion

*1 teaspoon of sweetener; Honey, Maple Syrup or Agave Syrup for less calories.

* Salt & Pepper to taste

Shake it up in a small container, drizzle on salad and toss prior to serving. You can make ahead of time and refrigerate, but bring back to room temperature prior to dressing the salad. This dressing can be used on most any green salad and pairs wonderfully with cheese, nuts or fruit mixed in as well.

Now you can be the person credited with that great salad, leading to that memorable dinner with such a great story.

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