So you’re convinced that making your own homemade dressing is at least worth a shot. Here’s the how-to that will help you to take this theory and put it into practice. Where to start? Unless you’re already well-acquainted with different oils and vinegars, it is helpful to start with a recipe.
5 Basic Elements of Salad Dressing:
- Oil: Use a good quality olive oil or a neutral-tasting alternative like canola, grapeseed, or safflower. Combined with a bit of sesame oil or nut oil, you’ve got a dressing you won’t find in the store. How much oil do you need? Traditionally, the oil to acid ratio is 3 to 1, but I prefer an equal 1 to 1 mix.
- Acid: The go-to vinegars are balsamic, red wine, and rice vinegar. Want a change of pace? Try champagne or sherry vinegar. You can also substitute some or all of the vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. A splash of lime juice goes well with citrus-based salads.
- Sweet: To take the edge off the acid, add a touch of sweetness. Ordinary white sugar will do, but you’ll add more flavor with honey, maple syrup, apple juice, or even jam.
- Salt: A generous pinch or two is usually enough. If your desired dressing is Asian-inspired, opt for Tamari (a slightly more refined soy sauce) instead of salt. The Domestic Diva recommends kosher salt and sea salt.
- Aromatics: Minced fresh herbs, shallots, citrus rind, black pepper, and/or garlic aren’t mandatory but add flavor. Common salad herbs include basil, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, mint, parsley, and dill. Mix and match as you please.
How to combine it all?
You have several great options for combining your dressing to accommodate any kitchen set-up or budget. The following list details options from simple to complex:
- Super simple (for small quantities): put all ingredients in a mug, and agitate in a circular motion with a fork.
- Still pretty simple: put all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (like a canning jar), tighten the lid, and shake like the dickens–a fun job for kiddos.
- Simple: put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously.
- Not-so-simple, but still fun (good for larger quantities): Pull out your food processor or (the Diva’s favorite) Magic Bullet, add solid ingredients first (like garlic or ginger) and pulse until everything is minced. Then add all other non-oil ingredients (vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, etc.), and, while the processor is still on, add the oil slowly. Voila. You’ll have a tasty and emulsified dressing.
If you’re making a big batch, leftovers can be kept in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.