Awesome Refrigerator Dressing

25 Dec

When I was growing up, our refrigerator had a shelf full of bottled dressings. Italian dressing, creamy Caesar dressing (my weakness), miso dressing, red wine vinaigrette. It was only when I went to college that I learned to make salad dressing. I was seriously missing out! Dressing is ridiculously easy to make, and you can impress a lot of people with just a good dressing poured over some leaves.

Making dressing is less about having a specific recipe and more about following a set of guidelines.

1. Keep a well-stocked refrigerator and cupboard. Good extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and red wine vinegar, real maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and really fruity jam are all good things to have.

2. Ratios: I prefer a ratio of 3:1 of oil to vinegar. Once you’ve made dressing a few times, you know how you like it to taste, but 3:1 is a good starting point.

3. Know your flavors. If your dressing feels too greasy and heavy in your mouth, it needs more vinegar. Too astringent and dry? More oil. Too sweet? Mustard and pepper.

4. Unlike the Lord, you can giveth, but you can’t taketh away. So add flavorings like mustard and jam in small quantities, and taste after every single addition. You’ll have a small pile of spoons to wash up, but better to spend more time at the sink than to pour dressing over your beautiful salad, only to discover that something wasn’t right.

So here’s my fallback dressing recipe. I love it over a spinach salad with pecans, Braeburn or Fuji apples, and Stilton.\

Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Dijon or wholegrain mustard
Maple syrup or non-sugary black fruit jam (blackberry, blackcurrant, boysenberry, etc.)
Salt and pepper

Optional: 1/2 a small shallot, grated on the small holes of a box grater

Whisk together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar in a smallish bowl.

Add mustard and syrup/jam a tablespoon at a time, whisking and tasting after each addition.

Add grated shallot (if using), and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix with leaves and serve. Om nom nom.


One Response to “Awesome Refrigerator Dressing”

  1. Lynne Hodgman January 6, 2012 at 5:03 AM #

    My salad dressing almost precisely. I often add a splash of orange juice or pomegranate juice instead of the jam. Maple syrup somehow complements the vinegar beautifully. Because I often add halved grapes or dried cranberries (or cherries) to my salads, the hint of sweetness from the fruit juice is welcome. Also, if you are concerned about the fat calories, you can cut the oil back considerably and up the fruit juice for a lighter dressing, wonderful in the summer over tender greens or in the winter over butter lettuce.

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