Salad Dressing

The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films.

- Paul Newman

I really like eating salads, but I can’t remember the last time I bought salad dressing. It is just too easy to make the dressing when I make the salad. There are no additives or preservatives, and I can have variety without a bunch of old salad dressing bottles cluttering my fridge door.

Easy? Yes. A basic vinaigrette salad dressing can be made using the simple ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. In actual fact, I don’t even measure. I just adjust the quantities until I like the taste.

You can whisk all of your ingredients in a bowl, but I prefer putting everything into a small jar with a tight fitting lid and just shake it.  Lately, we’ve been washing and saving the squeeze bottles from honey.

1.) Start with the oil.  You can use pretty much any oil with a mild or neutral flavour.  I generally like olive oil, but canola oil can also be used.

2.) Choose your acid.  There a literal dozens of possibilities here.  When in doubt, I usually go with balsamic vinegar, but you could use red or white wine vinegars, rice vinegar, lemon, lime, or orange juice.

3.) Add an emulsifier.  Oil and vinegar don’t mix, and will quickly separate if an emulsifier is not user.  I like to use Dijon mustard because I almost always have some on hand, but you could try dry mustard powder, honey or eggs yolks as well.

4.) Finish with some flavourings.  If you have them, chopped fresh herbs are great.  Thyme, rosemary, and oregano are particularly good.  Minced fresh or roasted garlic is another good choice.  Other possibilities include a bit of sesame oil, honey, maple syrup or anything else you think might taste good.  Salt and pepper can always be added to suit your taste.

Taste it.  Is it too sour?  Add something sweet.  Too sweet? Add more acid.

If you’ve made too much dressing for one night, it can be kept in the fridge for one or two days, but note is that if olive oil is used, it will solidify.  Don’t worry.  Take it out of the fridge and let it warm up.  Shake or stir well, and its as good as new.

Finally, if vinaigrettes are not your favourite salad dressings, creamy dressings can be made in much the same way using mayonnaise, sour cream, or yogurt as a base.

Check out my salad dressing page for some samples.

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