Fresher, better for you and better for your budget, these homemade salad dressing recipes are a win-win-win.
Making your own salad dressings is one of those better-for-you choices that’s also incredibly quick and simple, and yields a highly superior product. To make most salad dressings, you simply shake, stir or purée all the ingredients together. Ditch the instructions you’ve read before about adding oil in a stream—if you have the right ingredients and shake them well enough, your oil-vinegar mixture will emulsify beautifully. For extra emulsifying power, add Dijon mustard and egg yolks (always from pastured hens).
These recipes make about 1 1/2 cups, enough to dress several salads, but are easy to scale up or down depending on your needs. If making extra, keep in mind that garlic's flavor gets stronger over time.
Some bottled salad dressings have a teaspoon or more of sugar per tablespoon of dressing, and that sugar often comes in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. They’re also filled with preservatives, processed texture and flavor enhancers, and unhealthy types of oil.
When you make your own salad dressing, you can eliminate the sugar altogether or use a more healthful option—try honey or a pinch of stevia. Pass over the highly processed and genetically modified canola oil for cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil or neutral-flavored grapeseed oil. And there’s no need whatsoever for added preservatives. For example, homemade Italian dressing will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Most salad dressing recipes, including those on the following pages, are easily modified to make room for herbs, spices and other ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Don’t like sour cream? Use yogurt. Don’t have white wine vinegar? Try lemon juice instead. Don’t want a sweetener? Leave it out. Substitute dried herbs for fresh by using half the quantity. Or reach for those herb ice cubes you made last summer—sub 1 cube for 1 tablespoon fresh herbs. You can even omit a couple of the ingredients you don’t have on hand and end up with a perfectly delicious salad dressing.
Blend 3 parts oil with 1 part acid (such as citrus juice or vinegar), plus salt, pepper and any desired flavors—try mustard, shallots, garlic, herbs, fruit, cheese or nuts.
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