A dressing can make or break a salad, in more ways than one. The wrong dressing can highlight the bitterness in the lettuce and turn you off to future salads. Too heavy a dressing creates a soggy, high-calorie, could-have-been-healthy meal. A store bought one can introduce ingredients that you just should not have, such as xanthan gum. But the dressing that is juuuust right will flavor the lettuce, let the other components’ flavor shine, and will not over-calorie a healthy meal.
Finding the perfect dressing is a matter of trial and error, but there are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Make it yourself! Store bought dressings, while convenient, frequently contain sugar, additives and preservatives, artificial or ‘natural’ flavors, or are just too oily. Making your own is easy and can be stored in the fridge for multi-day use.
- Use high-quality oils, such as organic extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) from one region.
- For extra low-calorie, try a dressing without oil.
- Experiment! A general ratio for oil to vinegar is 2:1. Start there and add in your favorite flavors, like fresh squeezed orange juice, mustard, or fresh or dried herbs–You quickly figure out your tastes for the quantity of each.
My go-to dressings are:
- EVOO, balsamic vinegar, stone ground or dijon mustard, chopped garlic (or powder), salt and pepper and a tiny splash of water. Also, I slice red onion and let it sit in the dressing while preparing dinner so it pickles slightly with the garlic.
- EVOO, fresh squeezed lemon juice or orange juice, zest of the fruit, salt and pepper. I drizzle/ sprinkle each ingredient right over the salad and toss. This is great for lighter salads, such as an arugula salad.
- Take either of the above and add fresh herbs, such as chopped basil, parsley or cilantro
Fun and Fancy
Miso, Carrot, and Sesame from Bon Appetit
Green Garlic Dressing from 101 Cookbooks
Cider Dressing from Sprouted Kitchen (great for fall!)
Carrot Ginger Dressing from The Endless Meal
Roasted Garlic Dressing from Feed Me Phoebe (great for a kale salad, like the accompanying recipe)
Hold the Oil
Citrus Tahini Dressing or “Magical” Oil-Free Vinaigrette (plus more) from Dreena Burton, author of one of my go-to cookbooks ‘Vive Le Vegan’
Oil-Free Green Goddess Dressing from Detoxinista