It's all about the Dressing

One of my biggest nutrition and cooking pet peeves is seeing a client’s fridge door full of store bought salad dressings! (Eeeww and arggh)! Homemade salad dressings are one of the easiest things in the world to make, and they step up your salad from the obligatory greens next to your main to a “can I have seconds?” and “are we having salad tonight?” Make these dressings once and you’ll never go back to wasting your money on the store bought fake stuff again!

Top 5 reasons NOT to eat store bought salad dressings:

#1. They are not nearly as tasty as homemade ones.

#2. Filled with unnecessary ingredients such as stabilizers, preservatives, artificial flavours and colours.

#3. Often contain MSG (listed as “spices” or “natural flavours”).

#4. Made of low quality oils that have been deodorized and made rancid by light, heat and processing.

#5. They are a waste of money. (It’s so easy to make your own)!

The most important thing to remember to ensure a tasty salad dressings is the proportions of oil to acid. A good salad dressing should be 3 parts oil to 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon). Most people mess this up because they have been tricked into being frightened of any and all fat. (Hopefully you know better, and have learned that health promoting fats, such as un-refined extra virgin olive oil, when eaten cold such as in a salad dressing help protect our health by doing such things as ensuring absorption of vitamins and minerals, protecting cell membranes, balancing hormones and fighting inflammation). By following this basic recipe and using high quality un-refined extra virgin olive oil as a base, your salads will taste as they should-delicious!

Once you have the basics down you can play around with different spices, high quality oils, vinegar’s and other creative additions to make it your own.

Basic Dressing

  • 1/2 cup good quality oil (extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, walnut oil) or oil combination
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt (really brings the flavour out)
  • Crack of black pepper
  • Add ingredients to a small mason jar and shake to emulsify. Pour or drizzle desired amounts on salad and store remaining dressing in the fridge.

Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette

  • Basic dressing
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed, minced or grated
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot or mild onion
  • Put ingredients in a small mason jar and shake to emulsify.

Creamy Dressing

  • 3/4 cup basic dressing
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (or alternatively, 1/3 cup pureed pine nuts or 2 Tbsp tahini paste)
  • Put ingredients in a small mason jar and shake to emulsify.

Ginger Soy Dressing

  • 3/4 cup Basic Dressing
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Freshly grated ginger root (1/2-1 inch worth of ginger)
  • Put ingredients in a small mason jar and shake to emulsify.

Other ideas:

  • Minced shallot
  • Fresh pureed strawberries, raspberries or blueberries for a sweeter dressing
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey for salads with nuts or soft cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried basil, oregano, tarragon or thyme

So PLEASE do yourself (and me) a favour and throw out those preservative packed, sugar packed, dangerously rancid cheap oil laden dressings, and make salads taste the way they were meant to taste! You’ll feel better knowing what ingredients you are consuming and saving money and packaging on the store bought stuff. Not to mention you will impress your family and friends with your kitchen confidence and skills.

Posted on Monday May 09, 2011 by Kerri Cooper