A Secret Ingredient that Spices Things Up

I’m referring to Italian dressing. It’s one of those “secret ingredients” that is perfect for all kinds of savory recipes. We had a neighborhood potluck over Labor Day and table talk turned to how versatile this dressing is. It was surprising how many of us rely on it for several recipes.

One of the very first things Aunt Annie taught me to cook when I was a teenager was broiled chicken breasts that had been marinated overnight in Italian dressing. They were super yummy and made me feel so gourmet! Aunt Annie called Italian dressing her secret ingredient that she could always count on to spice things up. Ever since that experience I, too, have come to look to Italian dressing when I need to spice things up. And I especially like it as a marinade. I’ve used it on pork chops, pork roast, beef roasts, steaks, and cheap cuts of meat, and the results are always delicious.

This said, take a look at some scrumptious ways to use Italian dressing. The results are delicious and sometimes unexpected. If you have a bottle or packet of Italian dressing lying around, flavorful food is just around the corner! For instance, here are just a few of the many ideas I discovered while surfing the Internet. These are found on the Disney site, Babble (www.babble.com):

Italian “dressed” potato salad. This is my favorite potato salad. The dressing adds both ease and amazing flavor to this classic dish. You want to use russet potatoes for this. And instead of tossing them in vinegar and using lots of different spices, just toss the cubed, cooked potatoes in Italian dressing before adding the mayo. Then continue with the rest of your recipe (the eggs, chopped onion, etc.). This is a great shortcut tip that has served me well over the years!

Pasta Salad Skewers. These are easy and fun to make, and hearty enough that they can serve as the main course for any meal. For four servings, just cook up a package of cheese tortellini according to package directions. Then cut a red and an orange bell pepper into 1-inch squares. Wash up a pint of grape tomatoes and about a cup of fresh basil leaves. Assemble these ingredients onto skewer sticks as the photo shows. Place the finished skewers on a serving plate and drizzle them with Italian dressing.

Bacon Cup Salad is the name of this delicious and captivating dish. If you prefer, you can use turkey bacon for a little less guilt.

As the photo shows, place a paper towel on a plate. Line the exterior of a small bowl with two paper towels. Take three slices of turkey bacon and drape them over the paper towel-covered bowl to form what looks like a star. Next weave the remaining 2 slices of bacon in and out of the draped pieces (A small bowl may just fit 2 slices around). Cover with another paper towel and microwave for about 4 minutes. Remove carefully from the microwave with oven mitts and gently remove the outer section of paper towel. Lift the bacon off the bowl form and gently remove the paper towel from the inside. Fill with lettuce, tomatoes, and crumbled blue cheese; top with dressing. To serve 4, you’ll use 2 packages of bacon (turkey for less guilt), 1 head romaine lettuce (washed and torn into pieces), 1container grape tomatoes, a hefty wedge of blue cheese, and a bottle of Italian dressing.

Using only 3 ingredients, this dish is crazy good. You’ll add 2½ pounds of chicken, 1 can of condensed cheddar cheese soup, and an 8-ounce bottle of zesty Italian dressing. Place these ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on high (stirring often) for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. That’s it! We’ve served this over rice, as the photo shows, over cooked noodles, and even served it sans anything else, paired with a big tossed salad.

All these suggestions are good enough for company, thanks to a “secret ingredient” that guarantees to spice things up, Italian dressing.

  •   www.babble.com

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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