In case you've missed the updates: As a rule, I do NOT eat salad dressing. For the vast majority of my 30 years, I've eaten salads with lots of vegetables and some pepper to to keep it seasoned. One of the benefits to this aversion is that, as a general rule, salads without dressing are way healthier for you - no extra fat and/or calories. A bunch of choppped veggies, with a small fistful of grated low-fat mozarella cheese, really don't have that many calories per bowl.
A couple of years ago, I found a recipe for a dressing based on canned pears. You throw them, some olive oil and a little balsalmic vinegar in a food processor and then - voila! - you have salad dressing. I cut the recipe out of whatever magazine it was in and promptly forgot about it. I found it a year or so later, pulled it out to make it, and then lost it. I'm still looking for it.
But I remembered it when I was planning a dinner party a few weeks later. I didn't have any canned pears, but I was planning on serving a salad with mandarin oranges - and I thought to myself "Hey! Self! Pay attention! There's a lot of liquid in mandarin orange slices. I bet they'd work."
Luckily, I listened to myself. And came up with a light, summery salad dressing that is great with some mixed greens, roasted walnuts and maybe a bell pepper, tomato and cucumber.
But really? All you need is the dressing and maybe a straw. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: only use the straw if no one's looking. Because seeing someone drinking salad dressing out of a straw is something no one ever forgets.
Mandarin Orange Salad Dressing
11 oz can of mandarin oranges, divded and drained, liquid reserved
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar would work well too)
a few turns of freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
Start with half of a can of mandarin oranges (save the liquid) and the oil, garlic, vinegar and pepper. Put all of them in a food processor and pulse until you have a nice liquid.
Is it too thick? Add some of the reserved liquid - about a tablespoon at a time - pulse a few more times and taste again.
Too thin? Add a few more orange segments.
Like super-vinegary salad dressings? Add another tablespoon or two of vinegar.
Pour the dressing into a container that has a lid and add the poppy seeds.
Just before serving, give the whole thing a few shakes. It WILL separate, so you're gonna have to shake it right before you serve it. You can either toss the salad with the dressing, or let people self-dress their salads.