Consider this a friendly nudge toward making your own salad dressing instead of buying the mass-produced variety, or, use some of both. The advantages are that it’s economical, simple, flavorful, and a sustainable practice. Plus, you’ll know exactly what’s in the bottle, no mystery ingredients.
Store-bought dressings sit side by side in refrigerators, usually several have been opened, and one or more are grabbed as needed. I admit that’s handy, but salad dressings can be made in moments, can be made in abundance, and will last for days in the pantry or fridge.
Truthfully, the fastest way to dress a salad is to work directly with the greens in the bowl, the Zen of salad dressing, almost nothing, but enough. Rub the salad bowl thoroughly with a peeled clove of garlic, add the greens, sprinkle with olive oil and toss to coat; add a splatter of lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss and taste. Go easy with the ingredients until you get the hang of it. It’s an elegant, classic salad dressing.
Balsamic Salad Dressing I make this by the jarful in two or three minutes and store it in the cupboard for a week or more. This is enough for several salads, depending on size.
Ingredients & Directions, 2 – 3 minutes flat: Smash 1 or 2 cloves of garlic and place in a glass jar. Add: ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar, ½ tsp. mustard, 1/2 – 2/3 cup olive oil. Lid on, shake it up and it’s done. If it doesn’t emulsify (thicken) add a little more oil. That’s it. You can play around with this, add or subtract whatever herbs or flavorings you like. Find the oil/vinegar balance (2:1, 3:1) to suit your taste and take it from there
Sweet & Sour Salad Dressing
Ingredients & Directions: Place all ingredients in a glass jar: a finely minced clove of garlic and/or shallot, ½ – 1 tsp. finely minced or grated ginger, ¼ cup unflavored rice vinegar, 1 T soy, 1 T honey, ½ tsp. sesame oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne, 1 ½ – 2 T peanut oil. Shake it up and pour over a cabbage or kohlrabi slaw. This one won’t emulsify so just give it a good shake before using. Add chopped scallion, sesame seeds, and a handful of cashews before serving to make it fancy, toss in shredded chicken for a meal. It could also be a marinade.
Blue Cheese & Green Goddess Dressings
These are the more time-consuming creamy salad dressings which will require seven or eight minutes to make. Mix all ingredients in a blender. It’s salad dressing or a veggie dip. Store in a recycled glass jar in the fridge.
Ingredients & Directions: In the blender: 1 clove garlic, 1 C mayo (can be a combination of mayo, sour cream and/or yogurt), ½ C milk or half & half, ½ tsp. Worcestershire, pinches of salt & pepper. Blend together. Add more or less milk depending on desired consistency.
For blue cheese dressing, add the cheese, blend some more and it’s done. For the green goddess version add an anchovy or two, 1 ½ cups fresh spinach, or ½ cup sorrel, or almost any combination of fresh green herbs that you like. Blend until herbs are nearly liquefied. It’s done and it’s green. Make this on the thick side and it’s delicious with fish, like a tartar sauce. Refrigerate creamy dressings.
Why bother with making salad dressing? When it’s so easy to make it seems like a reasonable alternative to energy-consuming, expensively processed dressings on grocery store shelves. It’s another small action to consider.
One caveat about some jars – they don’t pour well and are messy. Make the dressing and pour into a long-necked bottle for easier pouring.
Inspiration has come from many sources over time and these dressings are an eclectic mix of what they’ve collectively offered, including Joy of Cooking, Gourmet, Alice Waters’ cookbooks, Jerry Traumfeld’s The Herbfarm Cookbook. Green Goddess-style dressing was adapted from Gourmet’s March 2002 recipe.
It’s summer vacation time. This is a repost from Mixed Greens 2008.