Unrefrigerated salad dressing components
May 29, 2012 10:39 AM   Subscribe

What can I bring to work once a week (or keep at work), to make a variety of salad dressings for my daily lunch salad, that doesn't need to be refrigerated?

A combination of lack of space and liberal food borrowing policies (condiment stealers) with respect to the staff refrigerator mean that my salad dressing is dumped into a plastic container in the morning when I'm putting together lunch. I frequently forget to complete this final step, so today I have a dry salad.

My salads are usually protein, salad green, tomatoes and something salty. Today it is leftover rotisserie chicken, romaine hearts, grape tomatoes, edamame and olives.

Please give me your suggestions for salad dressing ingredients that I can keep in my office, to bring out to the kitchen at lunchtime, for happy salad completion. I have no imagination, so my list so far is balsamic vinaigrette and EVOO.
posted by sillymama to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Penzey's sells dry salad dressing mixes (just add water, vinegar). I like to make vinaigrettes with mustard, but I've never tried dried powder mustard - I might recommend giving it a shot if you were interested.

Also sometimes folks make dressing out of yogurt. Not sure if folks borrow that, but you might base dressings on plain yogurt.
posted by kalessin at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2012

I like the dry italian dressing mix. You add water, vinegar and olive oil.
posted by JayRwv at 10:49 AM on May 29, 2012

Roasted sesame oil is delicious, easily found in Asian markets.
posted by mdrew at 10:50 AM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I throw a wedge of lemon into the salad container and sprinkle on some black pepper.
posted by it's a long way to south america at 10:51 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Avocado oil. It's sooooo good but hard to find. My Wholefoods has it for $12 dollars a bottle.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:53 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not quite what you were asking for.. but how about something like this? If your lunch container had a dedicated spot for dressing, would you be less likely to forget to put it in?
posted by royalsong at 10:57 AM on May 29, 2012

On a Asian theme, you can dress salads with things like soy sauce and fish sauce (both can be used with lime), neither of which need refrigeration. You could also bring in some mustard powder to make vinaigrettes with oil and vinegar. Lemon and olive oil are good together too.
posted by rhymer at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding avocado oil. You might want to decant it into a smaller bottle to keep at your desk, and store the other bottles in the fridge at home.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:01 AM on May 29, 2012

Royalsong, I'm embarassed to say that my salad container does have that dedicated dressing container and slot in the lid, and I still forget to put it in.
posted by sillymama at 11:01 AM on May 29, 2012

Not exactly answering your question, but I oftentimes repurpose water bottles, snapple bottles, etc for the carrying-to-work of liquids such as salad dressing. I also write my name and the date I put it in the fridge on the container in sharpie. Maybe some sort of container that is unlabeled (except with your name and maybe a false/undesireable expiration date) would be helpful?

To actually answer your question - olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt & pepper to taste make a light and easy dressing.
posted by vignettist at 11:03 AM on May 29, 2012

Tahini, tamari and roasted sesame oil make a nice dressing.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:03 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's an olive oil and vinegar salad dressing that does not need to be refrigerated - I use Newman's Own, I think. Perhaps you could take it to work and keep it elsewhere?
posted by needlegrrl at 11:03 AM on May 29, 2012

Assuming you can mix up some dressing there:

* Dry spices - thyme, oregano, rosemary, crushed red pepper, esp.

* A small container of brown mustard (this should keep ~2-3 weeks w/out refrigeration, if your office is climate controlled.)

* Lemons (these should keep for ~1 week.)

* Pickled horseradish or finely chopped sauerkraut.

Tahini is also great, and could likely be refrigerated without fear of theft (unless your co-workers are more adventurous eaters than mine.)
posted by ryanshepard at 11:05 AM on May 29, 2012

Vinaigrette is oil + vinegar. Oil options: olive, avocado, sesame, pumpkin seed, and so on. Vinegar options: balsamic, white balsamic, red wine, white wine, sherry, rice, malt, apple cider, etc. Other ingredients: salt, pepper, spices honey, brown sugar, maple syrup (may eventually go off), mustard (does not need refrigeration), tahini (does not need refrigeration for weeks), nutritional yeast, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce. Ingredients to bring fresh: lemon or lime juice, fresh herbs, minced ginger, shallot, onion, or garlic.
posted by ssg at 11:13 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honey+mustard+oil+vinegar (none of which require refrigeration)=honey mustard dressing
posted by drlith at 11:14 AM on May 29, 2012

You might also buy those individual packets of mayonnaise (great for creamy emulsifications-- you don't need much) and dijon mustard packets, which can keep unrefrigerated for quite a while until opened. A random Amazon search produced these-- I'm sure there are many more options.

For that matter, I noticed when glancing at the Amazon page that a ton of pre-fab salad dressings seem to come in individual packets. I don't eat much pre-fab dressing, but you might find something you like, and if so, you can just keep the packets in your desk drawer for when you forget the dressing.
posted by willbaude at 11:23 AM on May 29, 2012

You can buy a bunch of single-serving dressing packets (no refrigeration needed) and just keep those in a drawer at your desk. Not the cheapest method, but maybe consider those your emergency dressings, so you only use one on a day that you forget to bring home-made dressing. I bought a bunch at minimus for this.

Also seconding sesame oil, my current favourite dressing. No refrigeration needed, just shake a few drops on to salad, straight from the bottle.
posted by Joh at 11:24 AM on May 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

You are so safe with almost any kind of salad dressing ingredients in ssg's list being shelf stable. Maple syrup is mostly OK, but does develop an odd moldy skin if not kept in the fridge, but after some time IME.
posted by Miko at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2012

Try a big squeeze of lemon juice, sprinkle of sugar (or Splenda) and grated Parmesan. Add olive oil (optional) and shake. It's surprisingly delicious.
posted by caryatid at 11:44 AM on May 29, 2012

Dry seasoning mixes that can dress up a salad or anything else:

Furikake, available in Japanese or Asian markets (and maybe supermarkets depending on your location) is super deeeeeelicious though a somewhat specific seaweed/fish flavor. Many different mixes with different ingredients available. Especially amazing on rice.

Spike is a classic all-natural seasoning mix, comes in an array of flavors with salt and no-salt options. Throw some in your dressing or sprinkle on salad.

Nutrional yeast, available at health food stores and the like, adds a surprisingly nutty, rich, savory flavor and when dissolved in a liquid, like a dressing, it add a creamy, thick texture. "Nutritional yeast salad dressing" on google turns up quite a few recipes. Though I haven't tried it, I bet you could successfully shake some on a salad without having to pre-mix your dressing.
posted by dahliachewswell at 12:38 PM on May 29, 2012

If forgetfulness is the problem, but not a full-time problem, why not keep the ingredients for a simple vinaigrette in your drawer, only to be used when you forget? I'd go with olive oil, dijon mustard in packets, disposable salt & pepper mills, wine vinegar and packets of honey and jam (single serving sizes) for flavor variation. None of these things should spoil any time soon, except maybe the oil.
posted by Hylas at 12:47 PM on May 29, 2012

Can you try a chopped salad that actually thrives from adding dressing hours or even days before? Think cole slaw, for example, that can be made exactly to your liking -- add apples, raisin or nuts if you like.

A variation on my chow recipe might suit you. My typical mix is shredded hard veggies (carrots, broccoli stems), plus sliced peppers, chopped tomatoes, and even slivered greens like baby spinach. Lately I've been putting green herbs, green onions and a little bit of the liquid for the dressing in a food processor to get everything blended, then I've added more oil and acid as needed when combining the salad.

I've added in beans and/or grains and nuts, and chopped chicken or beef would certainly work, too. The greens get slightly wilted after a couple of days, but the whole thing still looks and tastes good.

Bonus: I find that chopped salad is less likely to fall onto work clothes than floppy, leafy salads.
posted by maudlin at 12:48 PM on May 29, 2012

Keep a couple lemons in your office if you can, I use lemon juice, dried ground mustard, olive oil, and raspberry wine vinegar, eyeball the amounts, whisk with a fork, delicious.
posted by manicure12 at 2:42 PM on May 29, 2012

I like protein-fruit-greens salads more than vegetable-vegetable-protein-greens salads, so slightly sweet dressings work well for me. My basic recipe is a spoonful of jam in the bottom of a tiny tupperware, add about 2x that volume wine vinegar, 1x oil (nut oil if I've got it, olive if not) a shake of salt, pepper, ground mustard (helps emulsify) and various herbs (for your purposes, I'd just make yourself a shaker with parsley, basil, chives, a bit of thyme or sage, and maybe some garlic powder). Close the tupperware lid and shake like crazy.

Jam would be fridge-food, though, but maybe lower on the stealing hierarchy... or maybe someone else will also have a supply that you can borrow from to balance things out. Or jam packets lifted from your local diner. The nice thing is that this doesn't rely on having super-fantastic jam; in fact awesome preserves are kind of a waste in this context.
posted by aimedwander at 3:17 PM on May 29, 2012

Oil, vinegar, seasoned salt (I love Spike), pepper grinder, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mayo, small packets of soy sauce and ketchup (to blend with the mayo to make Russian dressing), slivered almonds, raisins and, if you can get a tiny space in the fridge, plain yogurt.
posted by KRS at 3:27 PM on May 29, 2012

Oil, vinegar and any condiments/sauce you can steal/buy that come in packets. mayonnaise can make a dressing creamy, mustard packet and honey packet honey-mustard, etc. try adding some creamer from the coffee station.

Leave a baby food jar at work so you can shake together your salad dressing and then wash it out.
posted by Infernarl at 5:55 PM on May 29, 2012

« Older What to do during therapist's maternity leave?   |   Help me to find some party piano songs. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.