Dressing is one simple way to transform seemingly monotonous vegetables into enticing side dishes that pleasantly enhance the rest of your meal. Making salad dressings at home can allow for even more customization in your salad or vegetable dish flavor variety. Heck, you could customize a new salad dressing for each night of the week! Not to worry however, the same homemade dressing can last all week in your fridge for multiple meals if making just one is enough creativity for your week.
Step One: Vinegar and Oil
For the simplest version of homemade dressing, all you need is:
1-3 parts oil: Try grapeseed, avocado oil, almond oil, or olive oil. The darker or more coloured oils usually have more pungent or robust flavor versus more transparent, mild oils.
1 part vinegar or acid: Choose your favourite, or look at what you have in the pantry. E.g. red or white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, balsamic, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, grapefruit, orange juice, etc.
Salt to taste (or no salt –this is up to your taste preference).
You may need to add more oil or more vinegar depending on how mild or tangy you prefer your dressing. Vigorously shake everything together in a sealed mason jar or whisk together in a small bowl.
Step Two: Add an Emulsifier
If you find it frustrating that your simple oil and vinegar dressing keeps separating, try adding an emulsifier. Emulsification is when the oil molecules evenly disperse themselves with the vinegar molecules and are held there evenly dispersed by an emulsifying agent, such as Dijon mustard or powdered mustard.
Tip: Grainy Dijon mustard adds both flavor texture and turns the mixture into a thicker, more luxurious dressing where all ingredients are more evenly dispersed in each drizzle.
Step 3: Add Sweetness
Like adding more oil, adding in a touch of sweetness also helps to balance out the acidity of the dressing. If you prefer less oil in your salad dressing, try adding in a teaspoon of honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar to the mix. This will mellow out the tangy vinegar or citrus without having to add in more oil.
Tip: Molasses gives a deep rich subtle sweetness to your homemade dressing.
Step 4: Add Shallot and Garlic
Finely chop or mince fresh garlic or shallot and add a tablespoon or so into your dressing. Add one or both! These ingredients inject more aromatic flavor to your dressing. Be careful not to add too much for these fresh ingredients—a little goes a long way.
Step 5: Add Herbs and Spices
To customize your dressing further, add in freshly chopped or dried herbs and ground spices to compliment other flavours planned in your meal. For dried herbs, start with ½ tsp. and add more to taste (dried oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme). For fresh chopped herbs, start with 1 tbsp. and add more to taste (fresh cilantro, basil, dill, mint).
Add small amounts of ground spices to taste: red pepper flakes, ground cumin, ground coriander, curry powder, paprika, etc.
By Susan Sommerville – Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist)
Revive Wellness Inc.