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Using Salad Dressings

Taste buds are always looking to be stimulated. Salad dressings are a great way to make this happen. Some salads are one dimensional in terms of their flavour profile. This is particularly true with simple leafy green salads. Leafy salads are generally bitter but are not much else. Making a complementary salad dressing for these leafy greens would at least involve some sweetness, sourness, and saltiness. The making of each salad dressing will depend on each salad but here is an overview of some of the more popular salad dressing components.

1. Fat.

Salad

Photo by Irvin Mai

If your salad is mostly crisp vegetables, it’s likely that it lacks mouthfeel. This is where fat comes in. If you’ve watched the food network you’ve probably been conditioned to think that olive oil is the first ingredient in any salad dressing. Any fat however, can add mouthfeel, body, and luxuriousness to salads. It is most convenient to use various oils however one of my favourite fats to use in a dressing is brown butter.

2. Acidity.

Salad

Photo by Irvin Mai

Whenever there is fat you’ll want acidity to cut through it. I always feel unsatisfied when I eat a burger without pickles or at least an acidic condiment like ketchup.

3. Sweetness

Salad

Photo by Irvin Mai

This is not as essential as the first two but people generally like salad dressings that have an element of sweetness to them. The same can be said for spices. Dijon mustard is one of the more popular ways to add spice to dressings.

Salad

Boston Lettuce, Red Onions, Tomatoes, Radishes dressed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Maple Syrup, Salt, and Pepper.

 

Salad

Kidney Beans, Corn, Avocado, Tomatoes, and Dill dressed with Avocado Oil, Lemon, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, and Salt, finished with Dill.

 

Salad

Broccoli, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Corn, and Shallots dressed with homemade lemon aioli and finished with grated gruyere.

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Why buy salad dressing when YOU can make it?

New Years resolutions notoriously fail eventually. But it is still January and although it may be late in the month, I still see the strongest of us trying to uphold healthy lifestyle practices. A particular friend of mine is hitting the gym with incredible frequency. One day I notice her pick up a pre-made salad from the grocery store with pre-made salad dressing. When I asked her if she was in a rush she said no and that she was going to go home to enjoy her salad. I smiled while I died on the inside a little bit.

Reasons to make your own salad dressing

Baby Greens w/ Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

1. Freshness

When you make your own it’s fresh. The ones you buy have been sitting in bottles for months not going bad because of all the preservatives that have been added. Homemade salad dressing will last months in your fridge but sadly not very long in a cupboard. Is it absolutely necessary to you to keep your salad dressing in a cupboard? Is this a non-negotioable? Don’t even get me started on the health related affects of additives that can be found in store bought salad dressings.

2. Nutrition

Store bought salad dressings often contain 3 times as many calories as a homemade one would. I admit this finding is a bit less scientific than I would like. It is based on picking up a few salad dressings at the grocery store and then measuring the calories that go into my own homemade dressings (most of which come from the oils I use). This is important to note the nutritional difference because pre-made salad dressing usually uses poor quality oils with little nutritional value. If you make your own however, you have the option of using a nice olive oil that, for example, has numerous nutritional benefits.

3. Economical

It is just cheaper when you make it at home. Again I won’t go into quantitative comparisons. I’ll let you verify this on your own.

So how do you make a salad dressing? Go on over to my “how to” section to find out!

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