Fall Salads with Meta Given’s Special Dressing

Does everyone come back alive in the fall when the air crisps up and cools, I know I do, and it seems salad flavors do, too. The fall flavors just zing with the darker lettuces – I like to load them up with fruits like thinly sliced tart, crisp apple, dried cranberries or cherries, thin slices or dices of pear. I’ll even doll them up with red onion and mandarin oranges.

Meta Given's Special Dressing
Meta Given’s Special Dressing

I really love slices of roasted beets, chunks of roasted sweet potato and or any root vegetables. Every now and then I’ll sneak in some bacon and hard-boiled egg, big shaves of Parmesan, or a serious bleu cheese, smoked cheese or goat cheese. Perhaps a few croutons. And nuts, glorious nuts that are so good for you. And, oh yeah, don’t forget the pomegranates.

Those serious flavors, though, seem to call out for a different kind of dressing. Something tangy but smooth…something with a bit more substance than a light vinaigrette.

Meta Givens Special Dressing is one such dressing. I’ve been enamored with this dressing found in my Mom’s 1955 copy of Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. I don’t believe I’ve had any of these old school boiled type dressings until I tried this one – I suppose they were way out of fashion by the time I was growing up and every table had their bottle of Western.

It took about five minutes (plus extra time to chill) – and the surprise is everyone who’s had it has remarked upon it. It complements the fruit in salads very nicely, too; it’s a little sweet and a little tart.  On to the recipe!

Meta Given’s Special Dressing: makes 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups, serving size about 1 1/2 Tablespoons

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, optional
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Mix all dry ingredients in a saucepan, add milk and heat to boiling. Boil gently three minutes, stirring constantly – it will become very thick.

Mix egg and vinegar together in a bowl. Stir hot mixture into egg vinegar combination. Chill in covered container, preferably overnight.

I have no concerns about the egg being fully cooked as it is whisked into the extremely hot and steaming mixture. I expect this would keep for a week or two in the fridge, but beyond that, I would simply discard. There is a lot of vinegar which is a great preservative, so perhaps I’m being overly conservative, but I always say better safe than sorry.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • Mix the dressing the day before – I’ve found this keeps several days in the fridge. I like to use small bottles or jars for items like this:  Starbucks Latte bottles are perfect – they have a large mouth that’s easy to fill. Buy them on sale with a coupon, of course – one of my son’s friends dropped their bottle in my recycle bin, so I retrieved it…ah, a frugal confession!)
  • Dressing:  Since most of these items are pantry ingredients, see that page if you have a question on pricing.  The sugar was 7 cents, the flour, 6 cents, the spices around 5 cents, the milk, 16 cents, the egg 15 cents, vinegar probably about 3 cents.  I’m figuring about 52 cents for the dressing, and you’ll have extra left over.
  • Lettuce:  I really watch for the lettuces on sale:  I bought the romaine on sale for $1.35 for a 1 1/2 pound head.  We’ve been using it all week – cost for four side salads is about 35 cents.
  • Apple:  On sale in the fall!  Cost apple was around 34 cents.
  • Craisins:  I usually find for free with coupons.  If not, look for dried cherries or cranberries in the bulk bins – they’re pricey, but just a few really dresses up this salad.

Dressing Nutrition: (A serving is about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

Per Serving: 53 Calories; 1g Fat (12.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 27mg Cholesterol; 292mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 0 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Put Your Own Spin on It:

Meta says, “This dressing is good for potato or macaroni salad, or wherever an oil dressing is not desired.”  I’m so used to a mayo type dressing on potato or macaroni salad I’m not sure I could make the leap to these flavors.  I do think this would be excellent on an apple/pear fruit salad.

My Pay Off:

Now, doesn’t this dressing sound better than corn syrup, caramel color, xanthan gum, carrageenan, phosphoric acid, oleoresin, calcium disodium edta, dl alpha tocopheryl acetate, monosodium glutamate, artificial color, tartaric acid? This compares pretty well to the bottle I pulled out of my fridge and checked tonight.

Discussion:  What are a few of your favorite fall salad dressings and combinations?  Do you have your own House Special Dressing you whip up?

6 thoughts on “Fall Salads with Meta Given’s Special Dressing”

  1. Beth, I really like balsamic vinegar on my salads, too. I have tried several recipes for balsamic dressings and haven’t found one I’m wild about – maybe your sister will email me hers? Frankly, I don’t really like the bottled varieties – I dunno, maybe I’m too picky.

    With the celery seed, the flavor was fairly strong, especially the first day. If you’re not wild about celery seed flavor, and you are buying it fresh (where it is at it’s strongest) you might want to cut back a bit. I use celery seed in a surprising amount of recipes. I usually by it in the little packets in the produce sections.

    1. Getting the recipe won’t be an easy thing, sorry. I don’t know if she makes it anymore, as I asked to copy the recipe and she couldn’t find it. I think she just tosses the ingredients together without precise measurements now. When I moved close to her in 2005, she made the dressing regularly. A year or so ago is when she couldn’t find the recipe.

      1. Well, you got me thinking about it: I think I’ll try this simple one from Cook’s Illustrated next time I have salad. Balsamic is such a good fall flavor.

        Serves 4

        Ingredients
        1/4cup balsamic vinegar
        2tablespoons sherry vinegar , or wine vinegar
        1/2teaspoon table salt
        1/4teaspoon ground black pepper
        2/3cup olive oil

        Instructions

        Whisk first 2 ingredients with salt and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil, so the vinaigrette emulsifies. Serve. I like the sugar idea you mentioned so I’m going to add just a tiny bit.

        Don’t you just hate that, though, when someone makes something outstanding, then don’t have the recipe. I had chili at a friend’s house years ago that was so good sometimes I still think about it – he gave me some rough instructions, but mine was never the same.

        That got me to thinking about my grandmother – she rarely said a bad word about anyone, but used to swear this little old lady from her church left out ingredients when asked for recipes so her version would always be the best…

  2. My sister has a great dressing recipe for a balsamic viniagerette that has shallots, sugar, garlic and more stuff I can’t remember. It’s divine! Your recipe sounds very yum, and I’m going to try it out. In fact I will buy dry mustard & celery seed for it, and of course to have on hand for lots other recipes that I never make because I’ve never had those in my spice cabinet. : )

    Re: Discussion subject. Frankly, I just drizzle balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper on my salads. It’s tasty with all veggies, or salads with some bits of fruit added.

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s