How to Make Salad Dressing Like a Pro
Making salad dressing is very simple and even if you are quite new to cooking you will be able to put some delicious salad dressings together. Most salad dressings are made with liquid ingredients as well as herbs, spices or seasonings for flavor, and you can stir, whisk, or shake them together.
Basic Salad Dressing Ingredients
If you want to learn how to make salad dressing, it is important to stock up on some pantry basics. You will need olive oil for many salad dressings. Buy a good quality olive oil, preferably extra-virgin olive oil. Keep your olive oil somewhere dark, not near the stove or in the light, else it will lose its flavor faster. You can also use grapeseed oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil, or others.
Vinegar is also good for making salad dressings. Unseasoned rice wine vinegar is a good choice, and you might also like to get sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar too.
Salt and pepper are handy, and so is mustard. Choose Dijon mustard though, not hotdog mustard. Fresh garlic, fresh herbs such as chives, basil, oregano, thyme, and French tarragon, and dried herbs are also useful to keep on hand.
You can use fresh lemon or lime juice in some salad dressing recipes, if you want the acidic part of the dressing to come from citrus rather than vinegar. Dairy products like sour cream, milk, or buttermilk are used in some creamy salad dressing recipes. Having most of these ingredients on hand means you can make a variety of different salad dressings.
More Tips for Great Salad Dressings
In order to prevent them from turning slimy or soggy, leafy salads should always be dressed at the last minute. You could serve the dressing on the side if you prefer. A vegetable salad without the greens is best dressed while the vegetables are still warm, so they can soak up the flavors of the dressing. This is especially true with potato salad recipes.
Match bitter chicory, peppery arugula or other strong-flavored greens with a bold-tasting dressing like balsamic vinaigrette. Bibb lettuce, baby greens or butter lettuce have more delicate flavors and are best served with a more fragrant dressing. Something like lemon juice or rice wine vinegar would do nicely.
Creamy dressings are fantastic with crisp, mild-tasting lettuces like romaine. Delicate greens are better lightly dressed and more assertive ones are better with a more generous amount of dressing.
It is very important to make sure your salad ingredients are dry before adding the dressing, so it adheres better and the salad has a more pleasing flavor and texture. You might want to invest in a salad spinner for this reason.
An Easy Way to Make Vinaigrette
Whisking three parts oil with one-part vinegar results in a standard vinaigrette, and you can also add a little mustard at this point, to help bind the oil and vinegar together. Lemon juice is good in dressings, or you can try lime, grapefruit, or orange juice. Since citrus juices are not as acidic as vinegar, you might also need to add a little mustard to balance out the flavor.
It is useful to know when making vinaigrette that a neutral-flavored oil like sunflower, canola, grapeseed, or safflower does not require as much acid (citrus or vinegar) to balance the flavor as extra-virgin olive oil, nut oils or most seed oils.
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