Salad dressings

Salad dressings

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The sauce for a salad may be a simple dressing of oil and vinegar, a creamy, thick mayonnaise or one of the imaginative variations of these two great basics. Whether simple or intricate, all good dressings have one thing in common: they must be made with the freshest and choicest ingredients available.

Vinaigrette dressing (oil, lemon juice, vinegar, herbs) can be varied in a multitude of ways, by changing the herbs used, or using different oils and vinegars. And the best quality oil and vinegar you can afford, the freshest eggs you can find and garden herbs freshly picked will make a world of difference to the quality of the dressings you make.

Among the oils, there’s olive oil, a wide choice of nut oils (walnut, almond or peanut) or those made from seeds (sunflower, safflower or sesame) – all have their uses. Like wine, it’s worth shopping around for the one that really suits your palate.

Vinegars, too, should be explored. A harsh vinegar will still taste harsh in a dressing. Look for different flavours – tarragon, wine or cider.

A good dressing is one of the easiest ways to make food interesting. Remember, it is the actual flavour of the ingredients used which is important to the dressing – nothing else can give the same taste and appearance. So make sure everything you use is of the best quality and in the best condition possible.

Vinaigrette or French dressing: The most widely used dressing in the world is the basic oil-andvinegar dressing of France – a mixture of good olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a dollop of good prepared French mustard, if you like it, or a little hot powdered English mustard. Fresh herbs in season are added to suit the food the dressing is going to flavour and season. Garlic is used by those who like the flavour, and features in more robust salads. Be sure the salad greens are perfectly dry, so that the dressing will adhere to the leaves. It’s best added to green salad at the moment of eating.

The usual proportion of oil to vinegar is 3 parts to 1, but this can be varied to suit your own taste. Some salads call for a dressing where the oil is only lightly spiked with vinegar. If you find the 3 to 1 proportion too oily, add salt rather than increase the vinegar to cut the oiliness.

A squeeze of lemon juice is sometimes added at the last moment. Cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or any of the flavoured vinegars, such as tarragon, are excellent.

The choice of oil can vary. A good olive oil is the choice of many. Walnut oil has a distinctive taste and is good on tender green salads; it can also be used in combination with olive oil. The polyunsaturated oils are increasing in popularity, sunflower and safflower being the natural choices for those on low cholesterol diets.

See also Mayonnaise; Green Goddess Dressing.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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