Dressing Your Salads

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Making a salad dressing is often as easy as being able to shake a jar – a perfectly simple thing to do. Homemade dressings generally taste infinitely better than anything you are likely to buy* although bought quality aioli and mayonnaise are useful to have on hand being less perishable than their homemade counterparts.

* There are of course some fabulous small producers making quality dressings such as Urban Hippie Miso dressing.

A tasty dressing can transform a salad from something that simply satisfies the 5+ a day requirements to an absolute taste sensation

Salads are often dressed with a vinaigrette style dressing.  These are usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and then seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, mustard etc… and sometimes with the addition of a little sugar.  Lemon juice can also be added to vinaigrette, this doesn’t replace the vinegar but works to enhance the flavour.
While we usually have a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette in the fridge, it is fun to vary vinegars and oils to suit the meal and the mood.  Rice wine vinegar is often used in Asian style dressings, this is combined with a neutral flavoured oil and a drizzle of sesame oil(sesame oil is too strongly flavoured to be used on its own).  In a standard vinaigrette the oil and vinegar combine by being shaken, forming a temporary emulsion but then separate again when left to stand.

Foodlovers, Aioli, Photos by Carolyn RobertsonEmulsified dressings are trickier to make and even the most proficient cook can “split” the aioli or mayonnaise.  These dressings are made by whisking ingredients together that do not usually blend together to get a thick creamy mixture.  Mayonnaise is a classic example but this method is also used for mixing oil into vinegar by adding the oil in gradually while whisking the oil. a hand held electric beater can be useful for this or a small electric blender.
Hollandaise sauce is also an emulsion, made by whisking egg yolks into butter, our video on how to make hollandaise in about 30 seconds gives a perfectly acceptable speedy cheat’s version of this classic sauce.

We recommend that you make dressings in small quantites and use within a few days.  Some dressings are more stable but any using raw garlic,herbs etc… need to be refrigerated and used within a couple of days.

Some of our favourite dresssings include:

Basil dressing
Asian style vinaigrette
Walnut dressing
Caesar dressing
Pomegranate dressing (essential on raw energy salad)
Classic Vinaigrette

This summer I have also been making feta and ricotta dressing, made by mashing either cheese and then mixing it into a vinaigrette.
Does anyone else make this?

What are your favourite dressings?





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9 thoughts on “Dressing Your Salads

  1. Helen could you please check that I am still registered for your newletter as I have not received one for a long time

    Many thanks

  2. Any of Annabel Langbeins recipes are great, this is my fav. Juice of one orange and 2 limes or lemons, 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp hot chili sauce, 2tbsp fish sauce, clove of crushed garlic, 1 tbsp sugar. Shake all together and let stand of at least 12 hours. Yummy on grilled chicken and fat free.

  3. I made the basil vinaigrette – it was lovely.

    I love raspberry vinaigrette as well, I tend to buy this one ready made – for lunch time salads it is perfect.

  4. For something a little more exotic and ‘special occasion’, I sometimes use this dressing:

    60ml olive oil
    Zest & juice of ½ an orange
    60ml Frangelico
    1/3 teaspoon grated ginger
    15ml white vinegar

    That’s the basic version and I sometimes add seasonal fruit to the salad. Nectarines and feta added to the usual green salad are a sensation with this dressing

  5. I like a ricotta dressing too, and it’s a good way of using the small quantities of ricotta that I make as a by-product of cheese making. I haven’t added feta to a salad dressing but it’s a good idea.

  6. I’d have to say a classic vinaigrette with olive oil and lemon juice. I find it hard to go past this. A wonderful creamy aoli would be chasing hard on it’s heels though!