Homemade Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Salad Dressing
Why Make Homemade Salad Dressing
My sister-in-law, Resi, lives in Switzerland. She is a fantastic cook. I also discovered something new in her kitchen. Apparently, most Europeans do not buy salad dressing . . . they make their own from scratch. She was positively amused that we buy salad dressing and pay so much for something so simple that can be whipped up in a moment's notice and with very few ingredients.
I am guilty of buying salad dressing because I am North American and we like convenience, but I have to admit the homemade stuff is every bit as delicious, has no chemicals or preservatives, and is easy to prepare . . . so I should make it more often. The Europeans only make what is required for each salad . . . no leftovers in the fridge. You don’t even need a recipe for making salad dressing once you have the basic combination of ingredients . . . it is that easy. You make it to your tastes!
These Simple Ingredients Taste Great
This simple basic dressing is whipped up in a jiffy. You add the flavours you like. Vinaigrettes require oil, vinegar, water and spices—sweetness is added to cut the acidity and make the dressing milder. The amounts are for one salad serving, so quick you can mix each up individually as you need it… but do make it up fresh every time and add fresh herbs if at all possible! This is a mild vinaigrette that goes with any leafy salad, including salads with fruits added.
- 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil, (substitute olive oil or your favourite)
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (substitute lemon juice, cider vinegar …or any other flavoured vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon of creamy honey (substitute sugar)
- a pinch of salt
- pepper to taste
- Mix all of the ingredients together and whisk until smooth.
- Add only enough water, more or less, to adjust the intensity of the flavours. (If you like strong dressing, use less water!)
- Toss it onto the salad herbs of your choice.
Variations to Create Your Own Signature Dressing
To this you can also any one of the following: mustard, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, a little wine, fruit juice (not all of these at once) plus fresh or dried herbs that are compatible with the flavours and dishes of your main course. Add the “extras” in small quantities for subtle flavour. I like the basic four ingredients the best and add one or two of the others to change the flavour slightly.
The idea is to use the basic four ingredients of oil, vinegar, honey and water ( or the substitutes) and come up with different flavour combinations each time. It is like having a fridge full of different flavours! A dressing with grape seed oil, balsamic and honey will taste different than using olive oil, wine vinegar and sugar with Italian herbs . . . you get the idea.
Because you make up the dressing in serving sizes you save space and don’t have expired salad dressings in the fridge. Best of all, you can come up with your own "Signature" house dressing that will always be on hand!
Summer and Winter Menu Ideas
There are many ways to make a complete meal with your green salad. In the summer, make it a complete meal by adding a combination of protein, starches and fruits and vegetables!
- protein (chunks of ham, chicken, cheese, egg, seafood)
- starches (I cook more than I would use at another meal and use the leftover for salads such as:cooked potato- regular and sweet, pasta and even rice - in moderation),
- fruit (apple, orange segments, pineapple and even ripe papaya or mango chunks)
- vegetables: cooked peas or fresh, grated carrot, raw broccoli, raw cauliflower etc.
- garnishes of dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, flax seed, bacon bits and nuts
In the winter, complement your salad with a great beef stew and fresh bread, spaghetti and all pasta dishes and casseroles!