I never buy salad dressing and neither should you. It is expensive, full of sugar and chemicals, and not worth your time. It also makes everything taste like shitty oil.
I want to show you The Golden Salad Dressing Ratio.
All salad dressings can really be broken down into five major components. With this “Golden Ratio” you will never need to buy salad dressing again.
Instead of giving you a particular recipe I want to show you how you can combine oil, an acid, some seasoning and some herbs to pimp your salads. With an interesting dressing you will be inspired to create fantastic salads. And you can basically turn any mix of vegetables, starches, meat, or fish into a salad.
Put everything in a jar and SHAKE.
To make this easy I have written the ingredients like a ratio. One “part” can be any measurement you wish. Typically I like to have about a 1/4 cup of dressing per serving because I like BIG salads. Any extra can be kept in the jar for later.
Oil: 3 parts
This is the main flavor carrier of a salad dressing. Typically I use cold pressed olive oil here because it is tasty and good for you. Keep in mind that you may not want to use heavily flavored oils in all applications. In these cases you may wish to blend the oil (1:1 works well, with the exception of sesame oil).
Flavored oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Nut Oils, Sesame Oil, etc.
Neutral Oils: Sunflower, Safflower, Groundnut, Avocado, etc.
Acid: 1 part
Acid forms the flavor powerhouse of your dressing. You can really be as creative as you like here. Use whatever you have on hand and what you are in the mood for. You can be super simple or a blend.
Examples: lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or various wine vinegar (sherry vinegar is totally underrated).
Seasoning: 1/8 part (a big pinch/dash)
It is SUPER important that you season your salad dressing. A salad without salt is just a plate of veggies (not that there is anything wrong with that but its less exciting).
Examples: salt, soy sauce, fish sauce, etc.
Sweeteners like sugar or honey can also be added however I try to stay away from extra sugar in my diet. Rather than adding it in the beginning, I will taste the dressing and add it if I think it is too sharp. Not too sweet though. A good alternative in some cases are to use milder vinegar or to add more oil for a less acidic flavor.
Herbs/Spices: 1/4 Part
This is the part that is exciting. Herbs and spices can add an intense flavor to your salad. The most classic vinaigrette herb is tarragon or thyme, both of these are delicious. Typically I tend to use fresh herbs because the pack a great punch! Dressings are also a great place to add dried herbs as they will better hydrate and flavour the mixture. Be sure to use less dried than you would fresh as their flavours intensify during the drying process!
Spices are also a great addition to a dressing. I will sometimes add a bit of fresh or dried chili for some spice! Other awesome additions are anchovies, capers, toasted and ground spices, or spice blends or pastes.
Also, try adding a bit of cheese (grated or crumbled) for a great salty kick! Parmesan or Romano add great flavour. Also try softer cheeses like Stilton or goat cheese for flavour. Soft cheeses will also help emulsification.
Optional Component: The Emulsifier
An emulsifier is something that bonds together fat (oil) which is hydrophobic and water that is hydrophonic. This means that your dressing will not separate over time. Keep in mind that as there are chemical stabilizers, the oil will solidify in the fridge over time and the mixture will eventually separate. Just give it a quick shake and you will be good to go!
Emulsifiers are optional as they are not ultimately necessary for a great dressing. In some cases (i.e. asian soy-based, or Vietnamese fish sauce and sugar based dressings) they are not necessary.
Food emulsifiers are things that contain lecithin. Lecithin is contained in things like mustard, avocados, peanut butter and egg yolks. By adding them to the jar, your dressing will get a smooth velvety texture that will adhere well to the salad.
Eating raw egg yolks is FINE so long as you use fresh eggs. There is a minute risk that you will get salmonella but you are more likely to get it from the pre-washed spinach you buy than from an egg. I would not recommend that young children or pregnant mothers eat raw eggs due to the risks. If you are concerned you can buy pasteurized eggs or use a small amount of mayonnaise.
This is a classic vinaigrette, but you can use this model and build virtually any dressing you would like!
Here are some of my favorites:
Simple Vinaigrette: Olive Oil and Neutral oil – White Wine Vinegar – Salt and Pepper – Honey – Mustard
Italian Dressing: Olive Oil – White Wine Vinegar and Lemon Juice – Salt – Dried Chili Flakes – garlic puree – chopped basil – mustard
Raspberry Vinaigrette: Olive Oil and Neutral Oil – Lemon Juice – Salt and Pepper – 5 Fresh raspberries – honey –
Caesar Dressing: Olive Oil and Neutral Oil – Lemon Juice – Salt and Pepper – garlic puree – anchovy puree – egg yolk
Greek Salad Dressing: Olive Oil – White Wine Vinegar – Salt and pepper – Dried oregano – garlic puree – Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Vietnamese Sauce : Neutral Oil (1 Part) – lime juice (1 Part) – Fish Sauce (1 part) – Chopped red chili – sugar