Thursday, June 9, 2011

Salad Dressings--And the Benefits of Rice Bran Oil

When I was a child, ready-made salad dressings were simply unavailable in Polish stores. Later, I have learned from French and Italians cookbooks, that dressings are one of those culinary condiments that you can always make at home and they taste best made that way.

I am sure anyone has his favorite dressing recipe. And although I will share some of mine, the true reason for this post is not to post dressing recipes, but to introduce a rice bran oil, which I have just discovered.

We all have heard about the benefits of the extra virgin olive oil, especially the cold pressed variety, which is claimed to be the main reason for the good health and longevity of the Mediterranean people who have been using it for ages. Since extra virgin olive oil is already widely used there is no point in my trying to popularize it.

But recently, when I bought a bottle of rice bran oil, I started to read about its amazing health benefits. The more I have read about it the more I have been adding it to different dishes and now, I add it almost daily to my green salads.

Rice bran oil is easily available and inexpensive. You can buy it at Whole Foods, or at Asian food markets where you can get a quart of it for just $6. It has been long appreciated in the Asian cuisine. Japanese women use it as a beauty product to cleanse and purify their skin. Japanese also claim that it has many medical benefits, among others it helps regulate hormonal imbalance, lowers cholesterol, heals stomach ulcers and upset stomach, and benefits the nervous system. All that thanks to the vitamins K, A, and C, but most of all due to a high content of gamma oryzanol, a powerful antioxidant.

Rice bran oil has also a very high smoke point which makes it excellent for deep frying. Recently, I have been using it for all frying.

Here are the simplest dressings that I make daily, using this so called "world's healthiest oil".

Lemon Garlic Dressing for Boston Lettuce

1 head Boston lettuce,
juice from half a lemon,
1 garlic clove,minced
1 tsp sugar,
1/4 cup Rice Bran Oil,
sea salt and fresh coarsely ground pepper to taste

Mix sugar with lemon juice,until sugar dissolves. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and oil. Using a small whisker mix all the ingredients and pour over salad.

Mustard and Vinegar Dressing for Mixed Salads

4 cups of mixed lettuce leaves,
1 tbsp yellow mustard,
1 tsp sugar,
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar,preferably di Modena,
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
2 tbsp bran rice oil,
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Pour mustard in a small bowl. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper, and whisk until it makes a sauce. Add both oils, mix again and pour over salad.

Both dressings can be made in double amounts and stored in a refrigerator--one with lemon can be stored for up to two weeks and the one with vinegar for up to one month.