Dressed to impress: Easy and tasty DIY salad dressings

Mornings in culinary school were spent making entrees that we then enjoyed together at lunch. The last thing to be made would be a salad, which varied with the seasons, showcasing the most perfect produce I had the privilege of getting my hands on that day. We'd rotate tasks, but I always jumped at the opportunity to make the dressing, which I switched up daily. All the flavor is in the dressing, right? Plus, for a spice and herb-lover like me, there is no better playground to explore than in crafting dressings.

Salad dressings don't have to be complicated to be good. Any dressing you make at home will be better-tasting and infinitely better for you than something you buy in a bottle. It takes a minute to make a dressing. Follow a 3:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio (3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar) for a basic vinaigrette, add flavorings that pair with the rest of your meal, and run with your imagination! Play with the basic vinaigrette by layering on different flavor profiles. Some suggestions:

- For something a little more sophisticated, use walnut oil and sherry vinegar.

- For a uniquely Asian flavor, use sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a touch of soy sauce.

- For an Indian flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon cumin, or to taste.

- For a Mexican twist, add 1 teaspoon dry or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or to taste.

- For a Moroccan flavor, add 1 tablespoon finely diced preserved lemon rind and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and/or parsley.

Here are some basic recipes to get you started.

Servings: 8 to 12

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Classic French vinaigrette

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup red- or white-wine vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Honey lemon dressing 

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Citrus dressing

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup 
  • Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined, or in a jar, and shake until well-mixed.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Classic French vinaigrette (per 2 tablespoon serving):

  • Calories: 145
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Protein: 0
  • Sodium: 1 mg
  • Sugar: 0 g

Honey lemon dressing (per 2 tablespoon serving):

  • Calories: 147
  • Carbohydrates: 2 g
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Protein: 0
  • Sodium: 1 mg
  • Sugar: 1 g

Citrus dressing (per 2 tablespoon serving):

  • Calories: 148
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Protein: 0
  • Sodium: 1 mg
  • Sugar: 0 g

Contributor

Linda Shiue, MD

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