A good salad dressing is all about balance. You want it to be rich enough to coat the greens and make the salad palatable. You want enough acid to make the dressing bright enough to highlight the salad ingredients without producing that sour pucker-up face. And finally, you want to add something a little extra at the end to make it special, fun and tasty enough that it makes whoever’s eating the salad wanting more. The most common ratios for salad dressing are either a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid, up to 2:1 oil to acid. I prefer somewhere in between, at 2.5:1 oil to acid. I’ve included a variety of options that can be included in your dressing, and as long as you keep these ratios, you can make any vinaigrette.
6 tablespoons of oil – olive, vegetable, hazelnut, walnut, pumpkin, avocado. Any oil except for sesame oil as it’ll taste too strong. Can substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, but not more than that. If you can get your hands on pumpkin oil, it produces the best dressing EVER!! Pumpkin oil is really hard to find, so I just substitute with hazelnut oil, which is a decent runner-up.
2.5 tablespoons of acid /vinegar- balsamic, white or red wine, rice wine, apple cider, lemon or lime juice or any other citrus juice, or any other vinegar you like or any combination of any of these. My go-to acid is white balsamic vinegar, which is a really nice mellow version of balsamic and pairs really well with lemon
1/2 – 1 teaspoon sweet – white or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt – salt, soy sauce, ponzu, miso or fish sauce (for more Asian type dressings), worchestershire,
1/2 teaspoon black pepper – omit if including spicy ingredients
1 crushed garlic clove, left whole
Optional add-ins – herbs (chives, oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro, basil), green onions, mustards – dijon, yellow, grainy, hot sauce (1/4 teaspoon at a time, goes especially well with honey), spices (crushed chilies, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, curry powder), tamarind, pomegranate molasses, sun dried tomato, pesto, capers.* What you add really depends on what you’re serving the salad or greens with.
*Note of caution – it’s always best to start with small quantities, and build up from there. And if using salty ingredients like sun dried tomatoes, pesto or capers, hold back on the salt until you can determine how salty the dressing is, and then add if the dressing still needs salt.
Pour all ingredients into a jar and shake, shake, shake until well emulsified/thickened. Or better yet, pour all ingredients into blender and let whizz until thickened. Note of caution – if using the blender, you may not want to throw in the garlic clove until after the dressing is emulsified. You don’t want a punch of garlic in the dressing; just a hint. Add garlic clove and let dressing sit for 5-10 minutes and the garlic clove will impart a garlicky-scent, not a punch. Serve and enjoy!