The Best Homemade Salad Dressing
Fantastic salads are built on delicious ingredients, then augmented with wonderful additions like croutons and veggies. But, the center stage generally goes to the dressing. You may not realize that it’s also one of the easiest ways to add a lot of sugar, calories and unhealthy fat to your salad. With that said, we thought it would be a great idea to tell you a little bit more about salad dressings and how easy it can be to make your own.
Many store bought dressings are loaded with processed ingredients, preservatives, and chemicals that increase inflammation in your body. So, making your own dressing is actually much healthier. Plus, it’s cheaper!
Once you get started making your own, you’ll figure out what ingredients and proportions you like best. It becomes so easy to whip up different variations.
How to Make Great Salad Dressings
Creating high quality salad dressings is simple. There are a few super easy steps and you are on your way. By making it yourself, you can customize it to your specific taste buds.
First, you want to start with a good base. You can use oil or, if you’re craving a super creamy dressing, try tahini paste.
Don’t scrimp on the oil, the amount is critical. Often people use less, wanting to reduce the calories or make it lighter, However, our body needs healthy fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and to reduce inflammation.
The oil is also needed to create the emulsion in the salad dressing; that perfect texture. Always be sure to select the best quality of oil you can find. Use a 3 to 1 ratio of oil versus vinegar. Here are a few base suggestions you can start with:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Herb infused olive oils such as these
Mayo – Preferably that uses avocado or olive oil as a base
Next, you’ll want to add an acid like vinegar or citrus to bring a little bit of tang to the dressing. Here are a few suggestions:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Infused vinegars such as these
White Wine Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Finally, add in any sweetener (honey or maple syrup) or emulsifier (mustard or avocado) to help ensure the oil and acids blend well together. Remember, to mix 1 part acid (lemon juice, vinegar) with 3-4 parts of oil.
Adjust the rations to suit your specific taste and build from there with salt and pepper, fresh garlic or shallots, mustard or fresh herbs. Once you get into the habit of making your own salad dressings you won’t have to measure anymore!
Mix it Up
There are a few ways to mix up homemade salad dressings:
Put all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake it up! I like using this method for oil-based dressings like vinaigrettes.
Put all of the ingredients in a high powered blender and blend! I like using this method for creamier dressings that use ingredients like avocado but it also works great for vinaigrettes!
Store leftover dressings in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Salad Topping Ideas
You have your base with the perfect mix of leafy greens. Now, you add some veggies like tomatoes, shaved carrots, and cucumbers. Then toss on a lean protein such as cooked chicken, baked salmon or eggs, and mix it with your fantastic salad dressing.
The toppings of course. Here are a few toppings to marry everything together depending on the dressing and other ingredients you choose.
Crumbled cheese (feta, blue, gorgonzola, parmesan, etc.)
Toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds, pistachios)
Raw or toasted seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp seeds, etc.)
Dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, cherries, apricots)
Fresh fruits (berries, diced apple, sliced peaches, nectarines, mango, cherries, melon)
Salted meats (crumbled bacon, crispy prosciutto or pancetta)
Roasted butternut squash or sweet potato cubes
Croutons or crumbled tortilla strips
Quick and Easy Salad Dressing Recipe
Homemade Honey-Citrus Salad Dressing from Flavor & Savor
Olive Oil: Extra virgin, of course!
Champagne Vinegar: If you have it, otherwise you can substitute with white wine vinegar
Orange Juice: Freshly squeezed makes all the difference
Lemon Juice: Fresh is best!
Honey: 2 teaspoons, more if you like a sweeter dressing
Cilantro: Finely chopped.
Thai Red Pepper Flakes: Start with a small amount. You can always add more.
This dressing has a tiny bit of “heat” from cilantro and chili, so it works very well on salads that include avocado.
You can easily vary the ingredients in this recipe to suit your salad. If your salad needs a little kick of flavor, add the Thai red pepper or chili flakes. If you want a milder dressing, leave them out.
Shake all ingredients in a mason jar or combine in a small blender or food processor. If it separates, give it a shake or a stir!
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