Salad Dressings: Made from Scratch!

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As a part of my effort to eat more fruits and vegetables, I started eating more salads. I was never a big salad person before; it was just something my mom served along with more delicious items such as spaghetti or pizza. But I have truly grown to love salads and everything they can be. I’ve started roasting different vegetables, such as broccoli or sweet potato, and throwing them on as toppings. And experimenting with using spreads like hummus or salsa along with my usual dressing. Salad dressing – that’s what I wanted to talk about here. I had no idea the excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and unnecessary chemicals that end up in your average benign-looking bottle of salad dressing. It’s shocking! And such a shame since it’s so easy to whip up your own salad dressing at home.

For the most part, I make salad dressing in little individual servings when I need it – but I’m going to write this basic recipe for both that circumstance and if you’re making a larger batch for more people, or for a week’s worth of salads. I am also very fluid when it comes to my dressings, meaning I add in whatever looks good and I don’t really measure. But don’t worry – I used a measuring cup/spoon to figure out approximately what I usually use so I can write it up here for you guys . My go-to dressing is a vinaigrette-style. For this style of dressing, the basic formula is one part acid to three parts oil. The types and add-ins from there are up to you. You can make the dressing in any container large enough to fit about 2 cups, but I find a mason jar (or re-used spaghetti or salsa jar) makes for a good storage vessel.

Foxy Whole Foodie’s Basic Vinaigrette
Makes approximately 2 cups of dressing

    ½ cup of your choice of acid – vinegar (any type, balsamic is nice), lemon/lime juice, etc.
    1 ½ cup of your choice of oil – I almost always use olive but others such as avocado would work fine too

Whisk the oil into the acid until the mixture emulsifies (i.e. doesn’t separate anymore). Serve over any kind of salad you like and enjoy! 

Optional add-ins:
Use a teaspoon or two of any one or any combination of the items below. Or get creative and add in one of your favorite ingredients!

    Dijon mustard – my favorite that goes in almost every dressing I make
    Minced garlic
    Minced shallot
    Fresh chopped or dried herbs such as dill, parsley, cilantro or basil
    Freshly chopped chili pepper or dried red pepper flakes (for heat if you’d like)

That’s my basic recipe! It’s so easy. In the case of making it for one, I use about a teaspoon of acid to about 3 teaspoons of oil and whisk it together with a fork in a small bowl (or you can put it in a small Tupperware and shake to combine – which is good for packing dressing for lunches). Honestly, I use whatever combination of ingredients looks good that day, or will go with the food I’m having. My favorite combination is Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dried dill. Yum!

Personally, I don’t usually eat creamy dressings like ranch or blue cheese, but I do occasionally make them if I’m having guests over who would like them or if the food I’m serving calls for it. For example, I made both last year for the Super Bowl because I made Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, and I knew I would need them for dipping. Just like with the vinaigrette, I made them both in mason jars for storage. Below are the recipes I used:

Creamy Ranch Dressing

    1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, use 1 cup regular milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar)
    ¼ cup Greek yogurt
    1 clove grated/minces garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
    A few dashes of hot sauce
    1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
    1 tablespoon dried dill (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
    ½ tablespoon dried chives (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
    Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and serve.

Blue Cheese Dressing

    ½ cup heavy cream
    ½ cup Greek yogurt
    1 container blue cheese crumbles (6-8 ounces)
    A pinch of cayenne pepper
    Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and serve.

I would say that the blue cheese and ranch dressings should be used up within a week and a half or so. The vinaigrettes should last longer – up to a month depending on your ingredients. With the vinaigrette, the oil may solidify in the refrigerator (especially with olive oil) – no worries, just let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and it will re-liquefy.

Note: The vinaigrette recipe is my own – from practice and playing around with the ingredients. The Ranch and Blue Cheese dressing recipes are based on recipes from one of my food idols – Rachael Ray.  All her recipes (and she has some genius ones!) can be found at foodnetwork.com.

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