Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dressing Basics - Tips for Making Your Own

Making salad dressing at home is not only easy but it is healthier.  Once I started making my own I never buy store bought any more.

Once you get the basics down, you can get more adventurous with trying different vinegars and flavors.

My general rule for putting salads is a formula that follows this format:

  • choose your greens 
  • pick one cheese
  • pick a crunch (nuts are my general go-to)
  • pick a sweet (to compliment the savory of the crunch) - usually use fresh or dried fruit

So for this example I used greens with herbs mixed in, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh peach.

Now to the dressing.  The biggest tip I can offer you is to practice.  The more you do it, the more fun it becomes.  Also, use good oil and vinegar.  You can truly taste the difference when doing dressings.  I was lucky that my friend Reeves gave us some for Christmas.

I do not use exact measurements.  I just eyeball it and taste as I go along.  I start in a small bowl with a vinegar base.  My general go to's are either balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar but you can use anything you have or anything that sounds good to you.

Not all the time but frequently, I add a squirt of mustard.  Most of the time I use dijon but sometimes yellow or spicy mustards are nice too.  A little dab'll do you.  It thickens the dressing and adds another level of tartness along with the vinegar.  At this stage I also season with salt and pepper.  You always want to do that.

Then comes the olive oil.  I like to pour in the olive oil while at the same time whisking with a fork.  You can get an idea of the consistency.  Here's where it is difficult to tell you exactly because I just  pour until the consistency and taste feel right but I'd say it is generally 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil.  And a little goes a long way.  A tiny bowl of dressing when tossed in with the salad is enough for a large bowl.  Or, if you used bagged greens, one tiny bowl of dressing is more than enough for the entire bag of greens.  You can always add more in but use sparingly at first.

That's it.  Easy and delicious.  A squirt of citrus can also be a nice accompaniment to the dressing.  I like to use lemon if I have fresh fruit in the salad because it helps it from browning.  You can make these types of dressings ahead but wait to dress the salad until just before serving.  If you make the dressing ahead, give it a good few whisks with the fork before you dress the salad since the oil and vinegar will separate if it sits too long.

1 comment:

  1. I go to Midtown Olive Press every time I go home. I love their grapefruit balsamic vinegar and their Peach balsamic. They are so tasty you don't even need oil.


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