I don’t know about you, but I LOVE salads. The more you can cram into it, the better. Nothing quite tops it off though like a great dressing. Full of flavour, just the right amount and ooooh so delicious!
I find though that most dressings are either A. Full of sodium or empty calories or B. Lose their appeal after using them a few times. How about making your own? It’s not that difficult and you can control exactly what you’re putting into it to make your own masterful creations!
Here’s a few recipes to get you started:
1. French Vinaigrette: Mix together 15 mL (1 tablespoon) red wine vinegar with salt to taste (about 1 mL/1/4 teaspoon) and 15 mL (1 tablespoon) finely chopped onion or shallot. Whisk in 45 mL (3 tablespoons) olive oil and 5-10 mL (1-2 teaspoons) Dijon mustard. A classic dressing, this also tastes great on roasted vegetables and sandwiches.
2. Roasted Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette: In a small, oven-proof dish, place 3-4 sliced fresh garlic cloves in 120 mL (8 tablespoons) of olive oil. Roast at 160°C (325°F) until garlic is soft and browned, and oil is infused with garlic flavour. Let cool. Whisk garlic and oil with 40 mL (8 teaspoons) balsamic vinegar. Delicious on spinach salad or as a marinade for chicken breasts or skirt steak.
3. Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette:Whisk together 45 mL (3 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar, 125 mL (1/2 cup) olive oil, 10 mL (2 teaspoons) pure maple syrup (or more to taste) and salt and pepper to taste. Tasty with roasted root vegetables and as a marinade for pork chops.
4. Japanese Carrot-Ginger Dressing:In a food processor, combine 125 mL (1/2 cup) vegetable oil, 50 mL (1/4 cup) rice vinegar, 30 mL (2 tablespoons) soy sauce, 10 mL (2 teaspoons) sugar, 7 mL (1 1/2 teaspoons) fresh grated ginger, 1 medium peeled and chopped carrot, and 30 mL (2 tablespoons) chopped onion, then pulse until well mixed. Salt and pepper to taste. Try with fresh chopped cucumbers or steamed veggies.
5. Sesame Miso Dressing: In a food processor, mix together 50 mL (1/4 cup) vegetable or canola oil, 75 mL (1/3 cup) rice vinegar, 15 mL (1 tablespoon) sugar, 15 mL (1 tablespoon) soy sauce, 15 mL (1 tablespoon) sesame oil, 3 mL (3/4 teaspoon) ground ginger, 15 mL (1 tablespoon) white or yellow miso paste and 10 mL (2 teaspoons) sesame seeds. If you find you have extra, consider using it as a marinade for salmon or cod.
6. Honey Lime Dressing: Puree 50 mL (1/4 cup) lime juice, 30 mL (2 tablespoons) olive oil, 30 mL (2 tablespoons) honey, 30 mL (2 tablespoons) chopped fresh cilantro, 1 garlic clove and 0.5 mL (1/8 teaspoon) paprika. Yummy on taco salad and black beans. Omit the garlic for a fresh fruit salad dressing.
7. Cilantro Sour Cream Dressing: Puree 455 grams (16 ounces) salsa verde, 125 mL (1/2 cup) water, 125 mL (1/2 cup) sour cream and 125 mL (1/2 cup) chopped cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste. This works for salads and tastes great on fish tacos and quesadillas.
Salad Dressing Basics
Basic vinaigrette dressing is oil and vinegar and can be modified many ways. The classic ratio is 3:1 oil to vinegar, but play around to find your favourite balance and experiment with different vinegars and acids (like lemon juice) to add flavour depth.A basic dressing can keep for months in the fridge, which makes it a great staple. If you add perishable ingredients like fresh veggies, mayonnaise or sour cream, the dressing will last as long its most perishable ingredient (usually no longer than a week). To store, place in an airtight container in the fridge.
Tip: For easy clean up and storage, combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously to mix. When you’re done using the dressing, just twist the lid back on and refrigerate.