Take salads to a whole new level with homemade salad dressings with Big Y Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Andrea Luttrell.
How to Make Salad Dressing
Finding the right ratio to accentuate any salad.
Bringing the freshest vegetables and fruits together in a large bowl and adorning them with dressing is a quintessential gift of summer. Enjoy the culinary fun and play with flavor and texture the next time you build a salad by experimenting with the deliciousness of homemade dressings.
Where to begin? Whipping up your own dressing is easier than you may think. You can truly open a door to endless possibilities and combinations right from your kitchen.
A traditional vinaigrette dressing combines three-parts oil (fat) with one-part vinegar (acid). Your fat source can vary from the types of oils you choose to creamy ingredients like mayonnaise or yogurt. Your acids can vary just as much, with the type of vinegar you choose or the use of other flavor all-stars like citrusy lemon, lime and orange.
If you want a vinaigrette with a thicker texture that doesn’t separate, bind the water in the acid to the fat-containing ingredient with an emulsifying agent. Top emulsifiers include Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, mashed avocado, miso and tomato paste. Egg yolk is often used to emulsify salad dressings, but eating raw egg can increase your risk for foodborne-illness. In place of raw egg yolk, either use mayonnaise or a pasteurized liquid egg product like Food Club® Great Egg-Spectations.
You can mix up a crowd-pleasing dressing with minimal ingredients, but why not reach for crave-worthy layering? This is where the fresh aromatics of sliced garlic, diced shallot or grated ginger really shine. Chopped fresh herbs like basil, oregano and thyme take salads to a whole new level. And a pinch of ground spices, dried herbs, salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG) can heighten flavors to Goldilocks level (a.k.a.: just right).
Making your own salad dressing puts you in the driver’s seat for health. You can bring down calories and total grams of fat by slightly shifting the ratio of fat to acid or with substitutions such as replacing full-fat yogurt with lowfat Greek yogurt. Minimizing added sugar gets easier when using fresh pureed berries in place of fruit syrup. And added sodium can stay intentionally low when making your own dressing since you dictate, if any, is used.
Whether you’re adding dressing ingredients right on top of salad greens or bringing them together separately in another container, mixing is key. When preparing dressing on the side, the choice of how you mix is yours, but you do need to add in some agitation for everything to come together. Take your pick: a whisk, blender, food processor or your own muscles shaking a sealed glass jar!
Inspired? Get cooking with these recipes!
It’s hot outside. The last thing you may want to do is stand in front of a hot stove, preparing a hot meal. But there are still dinners to be made and meals to be served. What can you do? It’s simple: Cook without cooking! We have put together a few delicious, summer-perfect recipes to help you beat the heat.