Simple Homemade Salad Dressings and Vinaigrettes

There are some tasty and healthy commercial dressings out there, but to me most of the store-bought dressings, even the fancy ones, are disappointing. And since making dressings is very easy, fun, inexpensive, and the basic ones will keep in the fridge for months – it’s really worth a try. The quantities in the following recipes will make enough for several salads, and you can easily double or quadruple the quantities to make a whole jar which will keep for over a month in the fridge (unless there are fresh herbs/fruit and then it’s best to eat it up in 2 days). The basic directions for all of these are to combine everything in a jar or old dressing bottle with an easy-pour cap and shake; or if you’re making a small quantity you can just whisk everything together in a bowl.

Tips on preparing salads:  Keep it simple, you’ll be amazed at how good 3-4 well chosen ingredients taste compared to a “vegetable drawer jumble”. If you must wash greens right before making the salad, spin or pat them dry with a kitchen towel.  To minimize juice leakage, don’t add salt, try to tear instead of cutting greens, and cut juicy vegetables like tomatoes into wedges instead of small pieces.

A vinaigrette is simply a mix of oil and acid (usually in the 3 or 4 to 1 proportion); mustard is sometimes added to emulsify (blend) the watery and oily components, and a sweet element is sometimes used to mellow the acidity. Vinaigrettes are not just for salads – I often add leftover vinaigrette to sauces, soups, stews, stir fries, steamed beans or grains, etc. to brighten and fill out flavor at the end of cooking.

Simple Soy Vinaigrette (inspired by Annie's Shiitake Sesame)
¼ cup oil
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice (for longer shelf life use 3 Tbsp cider vinegar instead)
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)

Light Japanese Vinaigrette
¼ cup soy sauce OR 3 Tbsp white miso mixed with 3 Tbsp water
2-4 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp honey or juice concentrate
2 tsp toasted sesame oil (or 3 Tbsp canola oil if using miso)

French Mustard Vinaigrette
6 Tbsp olive oil (infused oils like garlic or basil can be nice too)
2 Tbsp cider (or wine) vinegar or 3 Tbsp balsamic
2-3 tsp Dijon or English mustard (mustard not only creates flavor, but is also a great emulsifier)
1 Tbsp honey

Balsamic Vinaigrette
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
½ tsp salt or more to taste

Sweet Sesame Sauce (Japanese)
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp kombu dashi or water
1 tsp soy sauce (less if your saké or tahini contains salt)
1 Tbsp honey or syrup or mirin (can vary amount to taste)
1 Tbsp saké OR 2 tsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar (optional)

Citrus Dressing (complements lettuce, avocado & grapefruit salad.)
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice or 1.5 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp orange juice
1-2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp honey

¼ tsp salt


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The goal of this blog is to celebrate delicious food that's also practical. Contrary to certain foodie trends, we believe there is no reason for amazing food to be expensive or complicated or time consuming.

Our hope is to bridge the ethos of the slow and simplicity movements (cooking delectable traditional foods from scratch, connecting with others, minimizing waste and clutter) with the everyday needs and constraints of “the 99%”.

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