A good dressing is the key to bringing your favourite salad creations to life, transforming a salad from OK to yummy! I’ll admit that I use a bottle of store-bought salad dressing once in a while (especially when I’m travelling), but there are many reasons why I prefer to whip up my own:
- It’s easy! It takes all of two minutes, does not require specialized kitchen gadgets, and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your cupboards.
- It’s flexible! You can create endless variations of flavours at a fraction of the cost of store-bought dressing.
- It can be healthier because you control the ingredients!
The two main components of a basic salad dressing are acid and oil. If you are in a rush, the acid and the oil will be all you really need, but additional spices can really boost the flavour. Here are some tips to help you make gourmet dressings that are sure to impress:
Choosing your ingredients
- Acid – Try a variety of vinegars like balsamic, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or rice vinegar. Feel free to mix and match your vinegars or try adding a splash of lemon, lime, or freshly squeezed orange juice for a citrus twist.
- Oil – Choosing neutral-tasting oils such as canola, sunflower, or grape seed will not overpower the other ingredients; however, if you are feeling adventurous, you can go for a more flavourful oil such as sesame, flaxseed, olive, or avocado!
- Spice – Not only do spices enhance the flavour of your dressing, they also prevent it from separating too quickly. It can be as simple as adding a bit of pepper or you can try a variety of dried or fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, oregano, or thyme. Other options include garlic, mustard (dry or prepared), soya sauce, ginger, or a touch of honey.
Preparing your dressing
- Ratio – While the traditional salad dressing ratio is three parts oil to one part vinegar, the best ratio depends on your taste. I prefer a zesty dressing with more vinegar than oil. Once you learn the ratio that works for you, you can go ahead and just eyeball it!
- Mix, Whisk, or Shake – The final step takes some vigorous mixing with a fork or a whisk to blend the oil with the water based acid. A good trick is adding the ingredients directly into a jar or plastic container then just giving it a good shake. This way you can store any leftover dressing in the fridge.
Here are some salad dressing ideas to help you get started:
- Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette: Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice (optional), canola oil, mustard, pepper.
- Orange Twist Balsamic Vinaigrette: Balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest (optional), garlic, pepper, touch of honey.
- Classic Italian Vinaigrette: White wine or red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, dried basil and/or oregano, and pepper.
- Zesty Oriental Dressing: Rice wine vinegar, lime juice, canola oil, a bit of sesame oil, a splash of soya sauce, minced cilantro, a touch of honey.
Do you have a favourite salad dressing that you would like to share? Please comment below!
About Emilia Moulechkova
Originally from the Lower Mainland, Emilia started her career with Northern Health as a dietetic intern in 2013. Since then, she has worked in a variety of roles as a Registered Dietitian with the population health team. In her current role, she supports schools across the north in their efforts to promote healthy eating. Emilia is passionate about food’s role in bringing people and communities together, and all the ways it can support physical, mental, and social health. Her overall philosophy on healthy eating can be summarized by this Ellyn Satter quote: “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” In her spare time, she loves exploring the beautiful northern outdoors by foot, skis, bike, or canoe!