Monday, July 19, 2010

Rant: Why So Creamy & Rich?

It seems to be that a salad is intended to be a light dish. It is usually a precursor to your heavier entree. The key is having fresh vegetables and other, similar items (such as eggs, bacon, tuna, etc.) in the salad. You want to be able to enjoy their fresh, individual tastes. So, it makes sense that any dressing applied to the salad should also be light, with some flavor of its own but not so much that it overwhelms and conceals the flavors of the salad itself. It should provide an accent, a compliment, and not take center stage.

So why is it so common to find thick, cream and rich dressings atop salads? Russian, Blue Cheese, French and more. That seems to run counter to the purpose of a salad. Those dressings would seem to conceal the flavors of the vegetables, making the dressing the most prominent taste. Plus, it makes the whole dish much heavier, and thus your entire meal heavier too. Is that really what you want? Why conceal your fresh and tasty vegetables?

Another good reason not to opt for such heavy dressings is that they are usually less healthy than vinaigrettes and other light dressings. Seems to defeat the intent of a healthy salad to add a less healthy, thick and creamy dressing. It is like eating a healthy piece of fruit for dessert, like a banana, but then adding chocolate sauce onto it.

Savor your vegetables! (Yes, that is really me talking). Don't hide them behind a thick curtain of dressing.

If you like creamy, rich dressings on your salad, please tell me why.


VintageEats said...

I like to savor my vegetables with the creamy zing of bleu cheese :-)

Rich, as I said before, I don't think that mixing light and heavy textures in salads is necessarily a bad thing. It's not so great when clumsily done, but a well-placed blob of Thousand Island really does it for me.

Might be that I'm from Wisconsin.

Dale Cruse said...

I think one reason people enjoy those heavy salad dressings is because many traditional salad ingredients don't contain enough fat. We often eat salads & don't feel full or satisfied. Something like heavy ranch dressing helps us feel like we've had a meal. I have to admit I'm guilty of this sometimes too.

Amy Boland said...

You should TOTALLY stay away from Wisconsin because in that great land, eggs are a fruit, cheese is a vegetable, and there is usually a pound of bacon on every salad.

Also when you order Zinfandel, they bring you pink Kool-Aid. Echh.

I hear you! Salad dressing should be to salad as cologne is to pulse points. If you're treating lettuce as a vehicle for dairy fat, you're just as hapless as a frat boy who reeks of Polo.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Jen:
I do like bleu cheese in my salad, but rather pieces of the cheese itself instead of some gloopy dressing that might have some pieces in it.

Hi Dale:
I think you are on to something there, and it might very well be one reason for the use of such heavy dressings.

Hi Amy:
I wouldn't have a problem with a pound of bacon on my salad.

Lindsay H. said...

I suppose I consider ranch a creamy dressing, but why do I like it?

Something about the way it and original croutons taste in a salad is fantastic to me.

However, I can't do too much ranch because you are right, it covers up a lot of the other salad tastes and after a while one craves those tastes rather than the ranch.

I rare eat salad dressing-free tho, so I tend to go for Italian because it's lighter and, like you said, livens the salad taste up but doesn't cover it completely.