I hope by now you have ditched any store bought dressings that are lurking in your fridge. If not read this then please go and do it pronto. Your taste buds, wallet and health will thank you. Below are my five top dressing recipes, once you have them in your recipe bank you won’t need much else.
All the recipes below serve 4 people with a little leftover. Maybe you like more dressing on your salad? If so you may not end up with leftovers so I’d probably double, triple of quadruple the dressings below so you have some at hand for subsequent days.
Dressings are all about balance – make sure you have acid, salt, a savory (umami) note and a touch of sweetness. If I’m adding fresh herbs to a salad or dressing, I add them just before serving as the acid in the dressing will make them go very soggy if left for too long.
Once you’ve dressed your salads, give them some crunch with toasted seeds, chickpeas, nuts, croutons or dukkah. Read my salad building blocks post here for more of my tips on how to build deliciously balanced salads without using a recipe.
Don’t just use these dressings on salads
Toss pasta or noodles, cous cous, cooked potatoes, roasted vegetables through dressing. Children are always much more inclined to eat their greens when they have a little oil and acid on them. It is always better to dress things that are warm whilst they are still warm so that the they soak up the dressing.
Keeping them in the fridge
Dressings (any without eggs or dairy) will keep in the fridge for ages. Just keep them in a clean jam jar, label them and use them with gusto.
If you don’t want to make a dressing
Much of the time I don’t even make a dressing. I just scatter my salad with olive oil and either lemon juice or vinegar (sherry, white wine or red wine vinegar), salt and pepper before tossing.
Jam jar dressings
The three dressings below are the easiest. Just put all the ingredients in a clean jam jar, shake, taste and adjust the flavours until they suit you. Then use or label and refrigerate until needed.
1. Vinaigrette aka French dressing (lovely with soft leaves, tomatoes, grated raw carrots, artichoke, roast chicken and greens)
(remember the 3:1 oil:vinegar ratio and you won’t go far wrong)
6 tablespoons of regular olive oil – I like this one
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 minced shallot (see my video of how to mince it)
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water (optional)
A pinch each of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar
2. Thai dressing (also fab with noodles, stir fried veg or rice)
2 limes, juiced and zested (around 2 tablespoons) juice – or use rice wine vinegar in a pinch
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (I like Grama’s brand from Whole Foods)
1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce – I like Squid brand from Lion)
Optional – an inch of grated fresh ginger, a splash of sesame oil
3. Lemon dressing (lovely with asparagus, fennel, broccoli or kale)
6 tablespoons good olive oil – I like this one
juice and zest of a lemon (possibly one and half lemons depending on how juicy they are)
A pinch of Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Homemade mayonnaise
This is so easy to make and tastes a million times better than anything you can buy. I use it to mix with eggs or tuna for my children’s sandwiches. Sometimes I stir some chopped gerkins, parsley and lemon zest through it to make a tartar sauce and serve it with fish.
Make a warm Hollandaise style sauce by using warm melted butter in place of the oil.
1 large egg
180ml (¾ cup) organic canola oil [aka rapeseed in the UK] or avocado oil or a mixture of the two
3 teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar (vinegar will mean your mayo lasts for longer in the fridge)
a pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- You need to use an immersion blender and a tall, wide necked jar such as a 500ml (one pint) mason jar to make mayo this way
- Put your egg into the jar along with the lemon juice or vinegar and the salt and pepper. You could also add a quarter of a clove of garlic, minced to make aioli and/or a teaspoon of Dijon at this stage
- Pour all of the oil into the jar on top of the egg, give it a few seconds for the egg to float back down to the bottom of the jar then put your immersion blender right down into the jar so that it is sitting on the very bottom
- Without moving the blender at all, blend for 20 seconds. You’ll see your oil and egg start to emulsify, increase in volume, turn a pale creamy color and start to climb up the side of the jar
- At this point, start to carefully pull your blender upwards, power still on. Don’t remove it from the jar yet. Blend for a few more seconds and move the blender up and down and tilt it side to side a little to make sure everything is incorporated. That’s it. You just made your own mayo! You can pop the lid on the jar and keep it in the fridge for 3 days, or up to a week if you used vinegar in place of lemon juice.
2. Homemade Caesar
I love this stirred through shredded kale or any hearty greens. It also makes a fab dressing for potato salad.
1 anchovy fillets (drained of oil)
half a small garlic clove, peeled
juice and zest of half a lemon
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
120ml (half a cup) organic non-gmo canola oil or avocado oil (I like Chosen Foods)
1 tablespoon good olive oil – I like this one
2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt
Follow exactly the same method as the mayo above. Put everything in at the beginning and blend away.