Salads are a simple solution to helping you reach your daily fruit and veggie requirements. To a beautiful and colorful array of mixed greens, add some fruit (a pear), stinky (or not) cheese, some toasted (or raw) nuts or seeds and/or some protein and you’ve got a quick and healthy meal that includes several servings of fruits and vegetables.
But choose the wrong bottled salad dressing, and that so-called healthy meal is now drowning in fat and unmentionables.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time we bought salad dressing. I mean, have you ever looked at what’s in it? And what isn’t?
Water is generally the first ingredient. Water. Really?
Then there’s soybean oil. Not even olive oil.
But there is Xanthan gum. High fructose corn syrup. Caramel coloring. Are you kidding? And, of course, there’s preservatives. Lots of things I can hardly pronounce, much less want to eat.
A 12 oz. bottle of this crud costs $4-$8. And this is the good stuff.
Well, I say we all need to try and kick the bottle. The salad dressing bottle, of course. No one needs the bottle when you can whip up a tasty dressing at home. One that’s fresh, fast and economical.
I prepare a basic vinaigrette that calls for approximately 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and/or lemon, some Dijon mustard and a little salt and pepper to taste. But using this as a base, the variations are virtually endless.
Add a dollop of mayo and you’ve got a creamy dressing.
Add red wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar and the dressing is going to be much tangier, which pairs well with Italian food. Add apple cider vinegar and it’s even better.
Use only lemon for the acid and you’ve created a citronette.
Puree basil with the dressing and…voila…a basil vinaigrette.
Add a bit of honey and you’ll have a slightly sweet dressing.
Add chopped garlic or even shallots, and now we’re getting somewhere.
Here’s something for you to build your vinaigrette repertoire on. I’d love to know what you think and welcome comments on what you did to personalize it.
Whether you love or hate salads, you need to be making homemade vinaigrettes, period. All it takes is a few basic ingredients, a good shake and salads are exponentially better. Because we need our veggies and a homemade vinaigrette is so much cheaper, easier and better for you. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled and if you like more tang, double the Dijon mustard.
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice (I generally use a combination of 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- Pinch of kosher or salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil preferably extra virgin
- Maldon salt for plating
In a bowl, whisk together the acid (vinegar and/or lemon), mustard and salt and pepper. Let this sit for a minute so the salt dissolves thoroughly.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until it is emulsified. You'll know it's emulsified when the oil is completely combined with the vinegar.
Taste to be sure the flavor is to your liking. Perhaps you'll need a bit more olive oil or another squeeze of lemon. Or another pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.
Spoon dressing over salad, toss until leaves are coated and serve. I sometimes like to drizzle a little more dressing over the top of the salad for extra flavor and visual effects, as well as a sprinkle of coarse Maldon salt for texture and another grind or two of pepper.
Refrigerate whatever you have left and just add to it when you need more salad dressing.