So, you go off to the shops and invest time and money in purchasing some lovely fresh ingredients, vegetables and maybe a piece of lovely salmon or tuna to go with your healthy salad. You get home wash it, carefully arrange it on the plate and sit down to tuck into your healthy lunch or dinner…BUT! Yes, there is always a but. You then reach for that salad dressing you picked up in the supermarket and spoil your food. How unhealthy can a salad dressing be, right? It talks about health and low calorie. Hmm, have you recently looked at all the artificial rubbish and unpronounceable additions? Scary huh?
There is another but, if you’re like me. BUT salad dressings, isn’t that what fancy chefs create? Well yes, but do you know in less than 2 minutes you can have your very own dressing, using natural ingredients, healthy, it is low fat and unprocessed. Most of the ingredients you likely have in the cupboard already.
I like so many cooks still learning are or have at some point been terrified at turning out something so basis as a salad dressing. Intimidated, why? Because, if you think about it, they require no cooking. There is an art to getting the balance of flavours correct, but this is nothing that some experimentation cannot fix. Everyone has a preference in taste.
Dressings are all about sweet and sour. Get the ratio right; the most common is 3:1 – 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Most oils have a subtle sweetness, so if any doubt, consider the suggestion of adding more sour, in the form of vinegar or citrus. It is about taste, taste, taste and preference, simple as that! Don’t forget to try adding some herbs to be fancy.
- Basic; 10 twists of salt cellar, 5 of pepper, vinegar to melt the salt and then add the oil (uses 3:1 ratio).
- Classic; 2 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar and 6 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Lemon & olive oil; 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to season.
- Honey & mustard; garlic clove crushed, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of runny honey, 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 100ml rapeseed oil, salt and pepper to season.
Season wisely. Do not throw all your seasoning in at once. Gradually taste as your mix. Remember to taste on a leaf of the salad you are serving with (leaves range from peppery to bitter).
If using raw garlic, make sure it is chopped adequately (finely), as no one wants to bite a lump of raw garlic! A better solution is to sprinkle the garlic clove with a little salt and rub it with the back of a knife to create a smooth pulp.
Carefully select the right oil. Get the best, organic, cold pressed oil that you afford. It will make a huge difference to your dressing. If you consider olive oil too strong, then look for a rapeseed or sunflower oil instead.
As important as the 3 rules is storage. That’s right…something so incidental will affect the final taste, no matter how you season your dressing. Heat and light affects taste and can cause the oil to go stale. Your oils should be stored away from direct sunlight and kept away from heat, so do not store next to your hob or oven.
Use a spoon to coat salad leaves. Never put the spoon or hands in and squash the leaves.
Don’t dress your salad in advance. The dressing will cause the leaves to wilt and become soggy. Make the salad the cover with cling film. Keep the dressing separate until you bring it to the table.
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