How to Enhance Your Salad Dressings


To transform a salad or to flavor a bland dish, nothing beats a good seasoning. So to become master in the art of dressing, follow our tips and recipe ideas!

The Basics of dressing

Dressing must be prepared using four basic ingredients: an acid (vinegar or lemon), a fatty product (oil, cream, or yogurt), and  salt and pepper. Starting with this base, add as many items as you wish, avoiding bad associations. If you replace the vinegar with lemon juice or a citrus juice, then use half lemon juice, half oil.
To make a classic vinaigrette, dissolve some salt in a tablespoon of vinegar (imperative step because salt does not dissolve in oil). Add 3 tablespoons oil and pepper. Mix well.
You can add a small amount of mustard that will stabilize and give a spicy taste to the sauce. Incorporate the mustard after the salt dissolves in vinegar and mix.

Note that a raw egg yolk will thicken your dressing. If you like well emulsified dressing, add a little water. And for a low-fat dressing, as much water as oil.

For the preparation of dressings, use a bowl and a spoon or whisk to facilitate the mini-emulsion. You can also prepare the dressing in a tightly closed glass jar in which you mix all ingredients. There are also special plastic dressing shakers, which allow to prepare and keep in the refrigerator for several days. Dressing should always be kept away from light and heat.

How to enhance your dressing?

Wine vinegar is the most popular. To season a crisp salad, choose a white wine vinegar. The red wine vinegar which taste is more assertive, is perfect for delicate salads or bland. Wine vinegars from Jerez, Puerto, or Banyuls have subtle flavors.

The followers of the sweet and sour, and salads that combine fruits and vegetables will opt for sweet vinegars: malt vinegar, made from sprouted barley juice, and cider vinegar with a golden color. They are also suitable for seasoning fish and crustaceans.

Now very popular, balsamic vinegar of Modena, Italia, slightly sweet, strong fragrance and refined, should be used sparingly so as not to dominate the taste of food it accompanies. A balsamic vinaigrette is excellent with arugula, radicchio or mesclun.

Other varieties of vinegar are rice vinegar (white, red or black), perfect for an Asian-flavored sauce, vinegars from fruit, honey, cereal and milk and flavored with herbs and spices (tarragon, thyme, garlic, shallots …).
It is customary to use the olive oil to taste slightly fruity, sunflower oil, and corn, which are more neutral oil, grape seed bodied, the taste of cabbage and that blends perfectly with a salad of potatoes or beets.

And have you ever tested the walnut oil? The taste is very strong, so you have to use it in moderation or cut with another oil such as sunflower or grape seed. It is the ideal oil for seasoning a crisp endive salad with walnuts and Parmesan. More soft and lightly scented, the hazelnut oil accompanies all salads. The grape seed oil, neutral and odorless, is a good basis for a mixture of oils. Less known, try the soy oil, you will certainly enjoy the hint of green.

Finally, do you know that you can flavor your own oil? Herbs, Spices … it is as you wish it. How about an example of olive oil flavored with basil and garlic ? It’s delicious and much cheaper than those sold on the market!

Get Creative with Dressing

To change the classic dressing, let yourself go to the inventiveness and daring blends, while maintaining a harmonious taste. It’s up to you to make dressings flavored with chopped herbs (fresh herbs, coriander, basil, mint …), ground spices (cumin, curry, ginger …) and other thinly chopped condiments (garlic, shallots, cornichons, capers … ).
For a sweet and sour sophisticated vinaigrette, squeeze the juice of a lemon. Salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of hazelnut oil. Make crumbs from 2 slices of gingerbread and add them to the dressing. Mix well. Combine the tomatoes with ricotta or brown oak leaf accompanied with fresh figs.

If you replace the vinegar with a citrus juice, remember that the lemon flavor is perfect for a cold fish or a salad with the flavors of the ocean (in seafood, shellfish, etc.).. A little more sweet, the orange vinaigrette marries well with a carrot salad with tuna , to get your fill of vitamins.
Finally how about a citrus vinaigrette? Whisk 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind, 30 ml of orange juice, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 / 2 tablespoons poppy seeds, 40 g of cream, 1 teaspoon mustard and 30 ml of water. Perfect with a pasta salad with salmon or haddock, coleslaw or steamed asparagus …
For vinaigrette with Asian accents, mix 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 chopped shallots 60 ml lime juice and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Serve with raw vegetables (peas, baby corn, bean sprouts …) or steamed vegetables.

Amateurs of thicker dressings, replace the oil with yogurt, cottage cheese or sour cream. Try this recipe also transmitted by a reader in an appeal for witnesses: Mix 1 rounded teaspoon mustard, salt, pepper, herbs, onion and chopped garlic, ginger, paprika (a dose), curry and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Drizzle 7 tablespoons olive oil and add a thin yogurt will give smoothness to the sauce.
You now have all the keys in hand for successful salad dressings and invent new ones. And feel free to submit your recipes for salad dressings!

Photo by jmayer129

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