26 October 2011

Salad Dressing

When I was a little kid, salad dressing kind of grossed me out -- and at one point, I thought only French and Italian dressings existed!  I liked salad, but I only ever put pepper on it!  One day, I discovered the delights of oil and vinegar and I've never looked back.  When I lived in the US, there were all kinds of salad dressings, but here in the UK, everything seems to be salad cream, cream-based salad dressings, and these thick, too-sweet, fat-free dressings.  Not my bag, baby.  Where is the raspberry vinaigrette?  Why is British Italian dressing opaque?  Maybe I am just shopping in the wrong places, but whatever.  I make my own salad dressings now!

Beet & cabbage salad with mustard vinaigrette.
Sometimes, a simple oil and vinegar with salt and pepper is good enough, but if you're feeling feisty, here are a few of my fabulous favourites:

Maple Balsamic Dressing
1 part maple syrup, 2 parts balsamic vinegar, 2-4 tbsp olive oil.
This goes well with leafy salads, radiccio, spinach, and walnuts.

Asian-Style Dressing
2 parts cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar, 1 part soy sauce, 2-4 parts sesame oil, garnish with sesame seeds.
This is good with noodle-based salads (especially buckwheat (soba) noodles or raw zucchini 'noodles'), tofu, radishes, and chopped green onions.

Creamy Tahini Dressing
1 part tahini, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part cider vinegar, 2-4 parts olive oil, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.  Thin with a little water until desired consistency.  For a more yoghurty flavour, curdle some soy milk with the cider vinegar and thin the dressing with that instead of the water.
This is good on salads with crunchy lettuce, onions, and garbanzos.

GF Buckwheat Taboulleh!
Mustard Vinaigrette
1 part mustard, 1 part vinegar, 2-4 parts olive oil, salt, and black pepper.  It's also good with a little chopped fresh thyme or dill.  For a sweet twist, add 1 part maple syrup or agave nectar.
I like to use the last bit of mustard left in the jar, add the rest of the ingredients, and shake.
This is good on beet and cabbage salads, although I like it on pretty much anything.

The Citrus Splash
Extra virgin olive oil and orange juice or lime juice is simply delightful.  Especially if you add chopped fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley and just a dash of salt and pepper.  Chopped fresh thyme goes well in this, too.
I especially like this on warm green beans or leafy salads with walnuts and fresh green fava beans or edamame beans.  Add a little cider vinegar and it's a great dressing for taboulleh.   Speaking of tabbouleh, if you're gluten-free, buckwheat is an excellent substitution for bulgar wheat.

While we're on the subject, why don't you tell me about your favourite kinds of salads and salad dressings? 

Here are two other unusual salads I've discovered:

And my recipe for a barley salad:

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