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7 Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

“The secret of a good salad is its dressing. Not only does a dressing add flavour and interest but it also marries its individual ingredients into a harmonious whole.”

homemade salad dressing ingredients
Why buy salad dressings loaded with preservatives and artificials when you can mix a superior one yourself in minutes, using the freshest ingredients?

Salad dressings are not new – a basic mixture of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt has been used since ancient times in the countries bordering the Mediterranean.

Today you can go into any food market and choose from a wide range of dressings. But why buy ready-made ones loaded with preservatives and artificial flavourings when you can mix a superior one yourself in minutes, using the finest and freshest ingredients.

The Classic Salad Dressing

The classic French salad dressing is known as a vinaigrette.

There is an old French saying that it takes four men to make a good vinaigrette: a spendthrift for the oil, a miser for the vinegar, a wise man for the salt and a madman for the pepper.

The classic proportions for a vinaigrette are 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Salt and pepper are essential, and most French chefs will add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, some fresh herbs and a pinch of sugar to emulsify the dressing.

This classic vinaigrette adds flavour and interest to green salads, tomato, and cucumber salads.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons wine vinegar, preferably tarragon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the oil with the vinegar, mustard, herbs, and salt and pepper until well blended.

Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake vigorously to combine well before using.

This basic dressing can be varied in many ways:

Indian Style Salad Dressing

For cooked vegetables, rice or pasta. Add 1 small crushed garlic clove and 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, fried until soft in 1 teaspoon oil with 1 teaspoon curry powder.

Anchovy Style Salad Dressing

For raw salads, potato, pasta, roasted sweet (bell) peppers or tomatoes. Thoroughly soak 4 anchovies to remove the salt and fillet them if necessary. Puree the with 1 teaspoon capers. Add this mixture to the classic vinaigrette.

Herb Salad Dressing

Chop some chives, chervil and parsley with a few tarragon and mint leaves. Prepare the classic vinaigrette and add in the herbs.

Nutty Salad Dressing

Chop ½ cup (50g) walnuts, peanuts or hazelnuts, or a mixture of all three. Prepare a salad. Make a classic vinaigrette and add the chopped nuts at the last minute just before tossing the dressing into the salad and serving.

Herby Lemon-Lime Salad Dressing

Lemon and lime juice is another popular variation on the classic recipe. Here we combine it with herbs for a dressing to serve with a classic tomato, cucumber and onion salad.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh herbs (e.g. mint, parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon)
  • salt and pepper

Whisk together in a blender, or place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously to combine well before using.

Minty Salad Dressing

This light and refreshing salad dressing goes well with a cucumber salad, cold potato salad or tossed lightly over a fruit salad or apple and tuna salad.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper

Whisk together in a blender, or place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously to combine well before using. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop, then whisk or shake again before using.

Basic Creamy Salad Dressing

The addition of cream or yoghurt to a salad dressing puts it into a completely new dimension. Like the classic vinaigrette recipe you can use this one as the basis for endless variations.

The secret of a good salad is its dressing. Not only does a dressing add flavour and interest but it also marries its individual ingredients into a harmonious whole.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, sour cream, whipped cream or yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh lemon juice or wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh herbs, minced (dill, parsley, thyme)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients, except the oil, together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop, then whisk or shake again before using.

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Tips for Making Your Own Herbal Oils and Vinegars

Herb infused oils and vinegars are a wonderful way of using the bounty from your food garden to create very personal and individual gifts.

herb infused oils and vinegars
Herb infused oils and vinegars adds another dimension to your cooking.

From simple flavours to elaborate blends, these light (on calories), easy-to use products are revolutionizing menus. They are not for cooking but for flavouring: bread-dipping for a first course, mixing with other ingredients, or adding a sizzling finish to hot cooked items.

  • Herb infused oils can be used in marinades, salad dressings or for the initial sauté in a stir-fry – in fact for any dish that requires ordinary oil.
  • Herbal vinegars can be used in dressings, mayonnaise, marinades, stews, soups and stews, and for deglazing.
  • When making herbal oils and vinegars as gifts attach a little card that details the significance of the herb as well as ways of using it?
  • Robust herbs such as rosemary, tarragon and thyme work best. But almost any herb can be used.
  • Basil Dark Opal is particularly suitable for herbal vinegar because the purple leaves impart a wonderful colour to the vinegar.
  • Use mild flavoured oil. This can be olive oil, canola oil or sunflower oil.
  • Use a good quality natural grape, wine or apple cider vinegar.
  • Do not use chemically produced vinegar because it overpowers the herbs.
  • Keep your infused oils in the refrigerator and use them within a month.
  • Keep herbal vinegar in a cool, dark place and use them within three months.