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Homemade Dressing

Posted Jan 26 2011 9:38pm

Homemade Salad Dressing Do you make your own salad dressing? If you don’t, I am here to convince you to give it a try.

Homemade dressing is so much better than the bottled kind lining grocery store shelves. It tastes better. It’s healthier. And it’s less expensive.

Once you get into the habit of making your own salad dressing from scratch, you’ll never want to eat the stuff from a bottle again.

Have you ever read the label on a typical bottle of salad dressing? Most are made from inferior oils like soybean oil that are mixed with vinegar, water, artificial seasonings and chemical preservatives. (Reading labels can be a real eye opening experience. I’m constantly amazed by the additives and chemicals that are being added to our food.)

Most homemade dressings can be stirred together in seconds and taste so fresh and delicious they make getting your daily dose of leafy greens a pleasure

With a nice olive oil and a few vinegars in your pantry and/or lemons on the counter, you’ll never have to depend on bottled dressing again!

Salad Dressing’s Health Benefits

Did you know your body can absorb more of the nutrients from salads dressed with oil and acid than from those without? After years of torturing myself with fat-free dressings and/or dressing free salads, I was so excited and relieved to learn this important piece of nutritional wisdom. (Just be sure not to drown your salad.)

Dressing Your Salad

A little dressing goes a long way when mixed well, so start with just a drizzle and then give everything a thorough toss. Then add more if you need to, a little at a time, tossing well after each addition.

Another trick I learned from reading Julia Child , is to sprinkle a little salt on your greens before adding your dressing. It really livens things up in a way that seems almost magical. And always remember to dress your salads right before serving so they don’t get soggy.

I like to mix my homemade dressings in jam or mason jars. You can shake them up easily and store any leftovers in the fridge.

Whizzing the ingredients together in a blender, shaking them in a bottle, or stirring them in a bowl or measuring cup are other options. Whatever suits your fancy!

Getting the Ratio Right

Finding the right proportion of oil and vinegar to suit your tastes can take a little experimentation and practice. Generally a good ratio for making most oil and vinegar dressings is 1 part acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to 3 parts oil. Some people prefer more oil; others less, so experiment to find what is right for you and your taste buds.

The ratio can also be affected by the type of oil and vinegar or acid you are using. Some oils are heavier, others lighter. And vinegars can range from sharp to sweet and from high acid to low.

Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar and sherry vinegar are my personal favorites. Many stores stock a wide range of vinegars including champagne, white wine, herb, fruit and seasoned, so you’ll never get bored. I also like to use fresh lemon juice.

For the best homemade dressing use a good quality oil. Most of the time I stick with extra virgin olive oil, since I always have it on hand.

Simple Flavorful Additions

It can be fun to experiment with flavor additions in your dressings. Here are some to consider:

  • A pinch of dried herb or spice
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • A bit of freshly minced garlic
  • Minced chili pepper
  • Minced shallots or scallions
  • Chopped roasted pepper
  • Mustard
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Freshly grated parmesan
  • Chopped capers
  • Minced olives
  • Minced anchovy
  • Salsa
  • Chutney

Homemade Dressing Recipes

Lemon Dressing

Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a jam jar.  Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Put 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into the jam jar. Add 6 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the lid on and shake well.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Put 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into the jam jar. Add 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, 2 teaspoons grainy mustard and 6 tablespoons olive oil.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Put the lid on and shake well.

French Dressing

Peel and finely chop 1/4 clove of garlic. Put the garlic, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons wine vinegar and 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil into a jam jar. Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Ginger Salad Dressing

In a one pint or larger glass jar or bowl  combine 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced ginger root, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup sesame oil, 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well or stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary

Creamy Homemade Dressings

Avocado Dressing

Put 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1 small avocado, peeled and seeded, 1 garlic clove coarsely chopped, 2 scallions roughly chopped and 1/4 cup cilantro in a blender and puree. Gradually pour in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil with the machine running. Season with salt to taste.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Whisk together in a bowl 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt, 5 teaspoons sherry vinegar, 3 ounces of crumbed blue cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Taste and season to taste with salt (if necessary) and freshly ground pepper.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing with Horseradish

Combine 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, (or sour cream or mayonnaise) and 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish in a bowl. Add 2 garlic cloves that you put through a press, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup chopped parsley and stir. Add fresh lemon juice (or white vinegar) to taste.

Light Creamy Caesar Dressing

Combine 1/3  cup Greek yogurt, 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2  teaspoons red wine vinegar, 2  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon anchovy paste, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1 garlic clove, minced in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Curry Dressing

Put 1 clove of garlic through a press. Put the pressed garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (or mayonnaise or sour cream), and 2 teaspoons curry powder into a jam jar or small bowl. Stir to combine. Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.  Add 5 tablespoons light extra virgin olive oil. Put the lid on the jar and shake well. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro and shake or stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Green Goddess Dressing

Combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 3 tablespoons chopped chives, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped tarragon and 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped in a blender until smooth and pale green. Taste and add salt as necessary.

Thousand Island Dressing

Combine 1/2  cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2  tablespoons  bottled sweet pickle relish, 2  tablespoons  bottled chili sauce, 2  tablespoons ketchup, 1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard and 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a bowl, stirring well. Thin with water to achieve desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Yogurt Dressing

Put 1/3 cup plain natural yogurt, 2 tablespoons wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil into the jam jar. Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.


Salad Dressing Recipes from around the Web…

Once you get started, you’ll begin to see ideas and inspiration for homemade salad dressings everywhere. Here are a few that caught my eye during a recent gander out on the web.

102 Light & Healthy Salad Dressings from Cheap, Healthy, Good

Citrus Salad Dressing Recipe from Dr. Weill

Lemon Tahini Dressing from A Sweet Life

Cilantro Lime Dressing found at Allrecipes

Southwest Salad Dressing from Mommie Cooks

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