I’ve not forgotten that I promised to write a post about making ghee a couple of weeks ago when I wrote my butter-making guide – the wedding has seriously taken over our lives so I just haven’t got round to it! My laptop also had a bit of a crisis and had to go to the shop to get repaired today so I have to update on the other computer which hasn’t got my library of pictures on it. Meaning that there won’t be any ghee tutorials tonight, but it is coming soon, and in the meantime, I thought I’d write a quick post on salad dressing instead.
This post is long-overdue as well, actually: it was inspired by a conversation with a friend when I went to her house for a (delicious) barbeque in the summer – seems so long ago! She was hunting about for a bottle of balsamic salad dressing when I showed her how to make a simple balsamic vinaigrette instead, using ingredients she already had in. Salad dressing was the first thing I learned to make as a child (partly because I was such a salad fiend and we used to eat it with almost every meal) and I’d forgotten that it was a thing that some people buy instead.
The best thing to do to save money on your shopping (and eat more healthily) is to buy ingredients instead of ready-made food. So whenever I find myself popping something processed (even if it’s a basic like a jar of jam) into my trolley I ask myself if I can make it instead. This applies just as much to salad dressing as anything else and as it happens, the ingredients for salad dressing are reasonably cheap and versatile – you might even have them in your cupboards already.
Basic Balsamic Dressing
My basic salad dressing that I reach for most often is (for a small 2 person side salad – increase as required) 1bsp extra virgin olive oil mixed with 1-1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar (depending how sharp or mellow you like your dressing) and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. Optionally you can add the end of a teaspoon of French or Dijon mustard. You can also swap other oils for the EV olive oil – flavoured oils work very well, or some people use normal olive or even sunflower oil, though I admit I always use extra virgin. To be honest, now I never measure salad dressing as I just do it by eye, but you might want to measure the first couple of times, until you can judge what will be a good mix. And taste it before you pour it on your salad (by dipping a finger, teaspoon or bit of bread in) – as with all food, you’re not going to know how it tastes unless you try it out!
If you substitute lemon juice for the vinegar, you get a lovely summery dressing that works well on loads of salads. You can use a little mustard too if you like – I like wholegrain mustard in this. Lime juice works too for a more exotic feel.
You can also substitute in your favourite vinegars for the balsamic. Cider vinegar works well, as do fruity vinegars – I have a bramble vinegar I got as a gift which is amazing in dressings. Red and white wine vinegar also work, though I find them a bit too sour for my taste so tend to top up with extra olive oil or even add a pinch of sugar or drop of honey to sweeten.
As above, but finely crush half a clove of garlic (just chuck the other half in the next dish you cook that has garlic in it, or if you’re cooking for a few people just use the whole clove) and mix in with the lemon juice orvinegar and olive oil. Don’t make this if you’re worried about your breath, as it’s got a good garlicky kick to it.
Once you have the basic dressing formula down, you can jazz it up with any extra ingredients you want. For example, tonight I made a dressing with red wine vinegar, olive oil, a little sugar and some capersfinely chopped. Other extra ingredients you could add include lemon or lime zest, finely chopped fresh herbs, a pinch of dried herbs, honey or I’ve even heard of miso or soy sauce being added to salad dressings to give a savoury kick.
So what’s your favourite salad dressing? Or do you tend to buy them? I haven’t covered creamy/mayo dressings here as I don’t tend to eat them – do you have any tips for these?