Sustaina-Mini: Salad Dressing Edition
While today's post is all about salad dressing, it could have easily been about making your own soups or dips or sauces or granola bars or any number of food items that are available ready-made, but simple enough to make at home.
I chose to focus on salad dressing because it's something I've consistently made at home for at least a couple years now (especially vinaigrettes) and that I rarely buy from the store anymore.
Here are a few reasons why:
to reduce plastic use (salad dressing bottles)
to ensure high quality ingredients (i.e., olive oil, fresh herbs)
to avoid unwanted ingredients like preservatives and sugar
to tweak dressings to my taste
because it's so easy and delicious!
When I first started making salad dressings, I followed recipes to a T but nowadays I prefer throwing ingredients together in a mason jar, shaking them up, tasting it, and adjusting until I'm satisfied with the flavour.
Here'a simple salad dressing that I make often:
vinegar (typically apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar)
oil (such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil)
salt & pepper
You'll notice that I haven't included quantities and that's because I can't be bothered to measure. (Measuring cups and spoons just add to the pile of dishes!) For the oil and vinegar, a typical ratio is 3:1, but I prefer using a bit less oil, so closer to a 2:1 ratio (2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar). I pour in the vinegar first, then eyeballing from the side of the jar, I add roughly twice as much oil. For lemon juice, I'll use at least a quarter of a lemon's worth, and for dijon mustard, just a squirt will do (maybe 1/2 a teaspoon). Shake, taste, et voila!
Here are a few other ingredients I might use to alter the flavour:
different vinegars (i.e., balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar)
more lemon juice, and less (or no) vinegar
different mustards (Brantview Apples & Cider makes a delicious English Style Apple Mustard that adds tons of flavour to salad dressings!)
mayonnaise (i.e., to make a creamy balsamic vinaigrette)
any fresh or dry herbs & spices
maple syrup or honey
ginger, garlic or shallots
Homemade dressings can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, depending on the ingredients used. (Fresh herbs or chopped items like onions or garlic will shorten the dressing's lifespan to about a week.) Some oils will solidify in the fridge but leaving the dressing on the counter for about 10 minutes (or briefly microwaving it at a low temp) is enough to re-liquefy the oil. The dressing might also separate, but a quick shake before you pour takes care of that.
If the idea of making salad dressing without measurements freaks you out, or if you'd like to read a more professional blog post on salad dressings, I highly recommend this one by Cookie and Kate (one of my all-time fave food blogs!).
Greta Podleski's cookbook Yum & Yummer also features many amazing salad dressings, including this Kaleslaw Salad*, which I make frequently. (*Link shows a 1-minute video on how to make the Kaleslaw Salad, but measurements are not listed.)
With peak salad season just around the corner, this is a great time to experiment with homemade dressings! Let me know if you do, or if you have your own go-to salad dressing recipe. I'm always looking to shake it up in the kitchen! ;)