The possibilities are endless and the results can be as classic or creative as you like. Whether you like it sweet or tangy, hot or creamy, classic or exotic, making the right dressing for your salad is what will bring all your ingredients together.
Here is a small selection from all over the globe to get your inspiration going.
- 2 tbsp good wine vinegar or a mixture of wine vinegar and lemon juice.
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- Big pinch of pepper
- 1 tbsp minced green herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, basil; or a pinch of dried herbs. (Optional)
Beat the vinegar or lemon juice in a bowl with the salt and mustard until salt is dissolved. Beat in the oil by droplets and season with pepper. Stir in the optional herbs and correct seasoning just before dressing the salad.
Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a srew-top jar and shake vigorously until blended thoroughly.
What you need to know about VINAIGRETTE: “The usual proportion of vinegar to oil is one to three, but you should establish your own relationship. Lemon juice or a mixture of lemon and (good wine) vinegar may be used, and the oil may be tasteless salad oil, or olive oil.” (Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking).
From the basic formula, you can experiment by adding mustard, herbs, cream or capers…
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 tbsp whipping cream or sour cream
- 1/2 cup of vinaigrette (as above)
- Lemon juice to taste
- 2 tbsp minced fresh green herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil, dill; or a pinch of dried herbs)
Beat the egg yolk and cream in a bowl until throughly blended. Beat in the vinaigrette in droplets as though making a mayonnaise. Season to taste with lemon juice, stir in the herbs.
What you need to know about MUSTARD: Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of a mustard plant. The whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds are mixed with water, salt, lemon juice, or other liquids, and sometimes other flavorings and spices, to create a paste or sauce ranging in color from bright yellow to dark brown.
Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted verjuice, the acidic “green” juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe. (Wikipedia)
Dijon mustard is milder than English mustard which doesn’t contain vinegar, and stronger than American mustard which tends to be sweeter.
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
Whisk ingredients in a small bowl to combine and season to taste.
What you need to know about POMEGRANATE MOLASSES: Pomegranate molasses is a concentrated form of pomegranate syrup. It is made by boiling down the juice of a tart variety of pomegranate to form a thick, dark red liquid and is a traditional ingredient in Middle-Eastern cooking.
“Pomegranate molasses is an essential ingredient…has a wonderful flavor and a heady aroma, and its thickness and dark color make food look very appealing. It keeps almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. The uses for this thick, tangy, piquant syrup are many. It blends well with walnuts, adds a tart and pungent flavor to beans, sharpens the taste of poultry, gives a clean, tart taste to fish, gives an astringent edge to salads and vegetables, and is a great tenderizer for lamb and pork. It can also be diluted and used for sharp drinks and tart sorbets.” (Paula Wolfert)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp vincotto
- 3 tsp cabernet vinegar
Whisk ingredients in a small bowl to combine and season to taste.
What you need to know about VINCOTTO: Vincotto (literally “cooked wine”) is a dark, sweet dense condiment produced artisanally in the Apulia region of southeastern Italy. It is made by the slow cooking and reduction over many hours of non-fermented grape must until it has been reduced to about one-fifth of its original volume and the sugars present have caramelized.
The Essential Ingredient’s Vincotto is prepared from a freshly-pressed must of Australian Shiraz grapes combined with a good quality red wine vinegar. The combination is then slowly boiled for several hours.
Vincotto can be used in sweet and savory dishes, as a dressing over salad leaves or a dip with sourdough bread, drizzled over strongly flavored foods such as game, roasted poultry, aged cheese or risottos, as well as in luxurious deserts, as a sweet and sour syrup.
- 100 ml olive oil
- 50 ml light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 20gm ginger (4cm piece), finely grated
- 20gm fresh horseradish, finely grated or good quality horseradish
- 2 golden shallots, finely grated
- Finely grated rind of 1 orange
- Freshly ground white pepper to taste
Whisk olive oil, soy sauce, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Add ginger, horseradish, shallot and orange rind. Whisk to combine, season to taste with freshly ground white pepper.
What you need to know about HORSERADISH: Horseradish is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbages. The bite and aroma of the horseradish root are almost absent until it is grated or ground. During this process, as the root cells are crushed, volatile oils known as isothiocyanate are released. Vinegar stops this reaction and stabilizes the flavor. Therefore, prepared horseradish most often refers to the grated or crushed root mixed with vinegar. Overtime, horseradish will start to darken and lose its pungency.
Horseradish is used a little bit like mustard, as a condiment on cold meats, in dressings or in a sandwich.
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp kecap manis
- 2 tbsp black chinese vinegar
- 1 red birdseye chilli, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
Whisk ingredients in a bowl to combine.
What you need to know about KECAP MANIS: Kecap Manis, a sweet soy sauce from Indonesia, has a thick, almost syrupy consistency and a unique, pronounced, sweet somewhat treacle-like flavor due to generous addition of palm sugar.
Kecap Manis can be used to coat meats or season asian noodles or greens.
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 220ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 80gm blue cheese (or gorgonzola)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
Process egg yolks, vinegar and garlic in a food processor until combined, with motor running, add olive oil in a thin steady stream and process until thick and emulsified. Add a teaspoon of hot water to thin, add blue cheese and lemon juice. Season to taste and process until smooth.
What you need to know about BLUE CHEESE: Blue cheese is a general classification of cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk cheeses that have had cultures of mold added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue, blue-gray or blue-green mold, and carries a distinct smell.
The Udder Delights Heysen Blue cheese has a mild and fruity taste, and a creamy texture.
- 25 gm light palm sugar
- 100 ml fish sause
- 100 ml lime juice
- 50 gm chilli jam
- 50 ml coconut cream
Pound palm sugar and fish sauce in a mortar and pestle until sugar is dissolved. Add lime juice, chilli jam and slowly whisk in coconut cream. Adjust seasoning to taste.
What you need to know about CHILLI JAM: Chilli Jam is made by slowly boiling chilies (and tomatoes) with sugar, lemon juice and white wine vinegar. Depending on the type of chilies used, the jam can vary in intensity from mild to extremely hot.
Chilli jam is great on a variety of seafood dishes, chicken or burgers to add a bit of heat to your dish.