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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pantry Basics: Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing

...in which I convince you that making your own pantry items is good for you...

Why? It's cheaper. It tastes better. You can control how much fat, sodium, sugar or preservatives go into your pantry items. It's easy!!! And finally... who isn't proud of themselves when they make good things from scratch?

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
This is not the thin white condiment you pour out of a bottle from the fridge. This is chunky, rich, milky and flavorful. You can keep this in your fridge for about 7 days without losing much in the way of texture.

This recipe makes enough for dressing a week's worth of salads. It's rich, so a little goes a long way. Romaine (either chopped or torn into large pieces) and iceberg lettuce (either chopped or cut into small wedges) hold up best to this substantial bleu cheese dressing. If you have some chicken wings on your menu, you can use this as the dip for them, too. Don't forget the celery sticks!

I've included low-fat options for those watching their calories. I recommend Bulgarian-style buttermilk because it has all the good probiotics in it, but if you can't find it, substitute cultured buttermilk (remember, buttermilk is naturally low-fat).

Also, it's cheaper to buy a small wedge of bleu cheese in bulk than it is to buy it in a plastic tub pre-crumbled (today I noted the difference was four dollars or more per pound). If you can locate a good regional or domestic bleu cheese, go for it!

Finally, whatever else you do, please don't substitute that cloyingly sweet salad dressing that has the initials MW for the mayonnaise... promise? If you use anything else but straight-up mayonnaise, the flavor will be way off.

 cup regular, low-fat, olive oil or homemade mayonnaise
 cup regular or low-fat sour cream
¼ cup Bulgarian-style buttermilk
1 clove garlic, minced
4 to 6 ounces of bleu cheese, chopped into crumbles
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream and buttermilk in a small bowl. Whisk in garlic. Fold in bleu cheese crumbles, then season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered container for at least an hour before serving.

Makes about 2 cups

Public domain image: "Fromage Bleu d'Auvergne" from France

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