best salad dressing?
August 29, 2005 3:37 PM   Subscribe

What is your most delicious salad dressing recipe?
posted by footnote to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
rice vinegar & dark sesame oil
posted by k8t at 3:40 PM on August 29, 2005

and Annie's Goddess dressing... here's a try of it:

2 tablespoons plain sesame oil or olive oil
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil (Not plain sesame oil)
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
5 green onions (white and green parts)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
plus 1 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce)
3 fresh garlic cloves, in a jar or 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic cloves, in a jar
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (toast them first if desired)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
posted by k8t at 3:42 PM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

k8t - does that all go in a blender or can you just mince & shake?
posted by footnote at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2005

1pt Raspberry Preserves
1pt Rice Wine Vinegar
2pts EVOO
Salt and Pepper to taste

Food process and adjust tartness to your liking - some prefer this with a bit of honey and mustard as well.

If you like whisking, just drizzle the oil in slowly and you should be fine without the food processor.
posted by revbrian at 3:51 PM on August 29, 2005

Salad dressing is a process, not a substance.

Rinse and dry salad greens of your choice.

Splash on some good olive oil, or other oil you like (walnut or sesame, maybe). Lightly toss salad greens till oil is distributed.

Sparingly, add salt, while lightly tossing some more.

Then, also with a light hand, add something acidic. Balsamic vinegar or lime juice are the things I tend to use. Don't overdo it - you're not pickling the salad.

That's all it takes. If you have a wooden bowl you might want to rub a little garlic on it at the beginning of the process, but you don't have to.
posted by zadcat at 3:58 PM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

1 cup olive oil, 1 raw egg white, white balsamic, juice of 1 lemon, zest of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt, 1/2 tbsp red chili flake, 2 cloves raw garlic, crushed and chopped, 1 tbsp raw ginger, chopped very fine, in a canning jar & shake until as mixed as it's gonna get.

Good poured over cubed avocado, red onion, cucumber and heirloom tomatoes (add orange slices and bulk shrimpmeat for variety).
posted by luriete at 3:59 PM on August 29, 2005

Fresh lemon juice. Maybe some lime juice and a little fish sauce. Maybe.
posted by jdroth at 4:06 PM on August 29, 2005

1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 part balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice)
sprinkle of tamari (or soy sauce)
sprinkle toasted sesame oil
fresh ground pepper
dash cayenne
fresh pressed garlic
posted by Specklet at 4:21 PM on August 29, 2005

3 cloves garlic
2 oz red wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dijon mustard

dump all but oil into cocktail shaker. shake. add oil. shake. let sit for an hour. shake. remove cloves (optional). enjoy.

(courtesy of alton brown)
posted by keswick at 4:38 PM on August 29, 2005

My gf's favorite:

Equalish parts good olive oil and mirin. Add about eight-ten drops of sesame oil and a healthy squeeze of lime juice from a plastic lime. Stir it up and go.
posted by stet at 4:40 PM on August 29, 2005

What zadcat said, but I never use balsamic vinegar (I find it too overpowering). Usually lemon juice, occasionally lime juice or red wine vinegar. Some mashed avocado really augments the richness of the olive oil.

Other good salad dressings involve blending the standard ingredients (oil, citrus, salt, pepper) with lots of fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, mint) individually or in combination. You can also add a bit of mustard and mayonnaise to make it even creamier. This one really coats each piece of vegetable.

SUPER BONUS DRESSING IDEA: For when you want something bold and assertive (say, to accompany a cheap steak or charred burger), toss your greens in tabasco and soy sauce. This is an interesting one because normally I'd think that 1) tabasco is a gross hot sauce with poor flavor 2) hot sauce in salad dressing seems unbalanced and too strong and 3) there's no fat in the dressing and 4) soy sauce? However, it's pretty fantastic.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:42 PM on August 29, 2005

[luriete, does food taste good again to you? I just ran across your question while searching AskMe archives for other salad recipes today and was wondering how things turned out.]
posted by footnote at 4:47 PM on August 29, 2005

[hi footnotes; it seems to be getting better, but i still spend more time thinking about food than eating it because it's not quite as good as before, and sweet stuff is not so great, but mostly things seem to have been better, with some help from the doctor.]
posted by luriete at 4:56 PM on August 29, 2005

A traditional French vinaigrette, with the time taken to get a good emulsion, not only tastes amazing but makes one (me) feel all smug.

Take some good vinegar, ideally Sherry vinegar, put it in a bowl with a dab of good mustard. With a fork, whisk in a few drops of good light olive oil. Whisk in a few more drops. Then, slowly and painstakingly, whisk in a few more, then finally start putting in a thin stream of oil while whisking madly. If you do this right, you get a shiny, thick dressing, almost the consistency of homemade mayo. It takes practice, but it's worth it.
Then add some fresh garlic, some lemon juice, some herbs (especially a little tarragon) and a few drops of water to balance the taste, some salt and pepper, and you have a salad dressing for the gods.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:57 PM on August 29, 2005

1/4 cup Orange Juice
2 TB Balsamic Vinegar
2 TB Honey
1 TB Dijon Mustard
1/8 TSP (or whatever) Fresh ground pepper.

Mmm...I marinate red and orange peppers, cucumbers, shredded carrots (sometimes bean sprouts) in the dressing and then use then pour the dressing out from the veggie bowl onto the greens. Toss the greens. Throw the veggies on top. Toss on some raisins and walnuts.

Yummy. And pretty close to fat free!
posted by duck at 5:03 PM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Following up on rxrfrx's tabasco idea, I have had an amazing wasabi salad dressing. No recipe, just an idea.
posted by misterbrandt at 5:07 PM on August 29, 2005

My friend Jessica brought this to my sushi party over the weekend. It's SO good:

Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Salad Dressing
(CopyCat Shogun)
1 3/4 cups
15 minutes 5 mins prep
1/2 cup minced onions
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1.. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
2.. Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all of the ginger is
3.. This recipe yields 1 3/4 cups.
posted by geekhorde at 5:11 PM on August 29, 2005


The secret to good (vinaigrette) salad dressing is proper emulsification, so you get a uniform flavor that sticks to whatever it's on, instead of collecting in a pool at the bottom of the bowl. As a result, you need less of it, because the flavor is more concentrated.

After that, it's trivial to play around with different flavors.
posted by mkultra at 5:20 PM on August 29, 2005

Not strictly a dressing recipe, but I just wanted to share this very simple and surprisingly elegant salad recipe I recently was treated to:

- Cut iceberg lettuce into pieces 1 inch square or smaller.
- Peel and cut cucumber into very small dice.
- Toss both together with a small amount of your favorite ranch-style dressing.

Very cool and refreshing on a hot summer night. Next time I make it for myself I might add a little grated or shaved parmesan/romano cheese for some added bite.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:22 PM on August 29, 2005

From Heart of the Home*

Hell No, We Won't Glow Salad Dressing**

3/4 cup olive oil or sesame oil (I use half olive/half sesame)
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice (I use balsamic)
1 TBS brown miso
1 tsp oregano
1 TBS tahini
dash of dry mustard

Somehow it tastes better after a day in the fridge-- although it congeals. Best to let it warm to room temperature before serving.

*My favorite small-press off-kilter vegetarian southern-style comfort food cookbook. Some absolutely fantastic recipes along with appropriated images of 50's housewives, the author's favorite quotes, and household hints of questionable utility. I see there's a new edition out. I hope some new editor didn't try to fix the typos, meandering prose and bizarre asides.

**So named because the author believes that miso rids the body of radiation.

posted by hydrophonic at 5:24 PM on August 29, 2005

You can also use a bit of (uncooked) egg yolk to help emulsify your dressings, since the lecithin in them will make them more stable. Obviously, the dressing will contain raw eggs, but the vinegar helps kill the bugs in the egg yolks, as it does when you make mayonnaise. (I believe Alton Brown covered this in his mayonnaise show...)

I've been eating raw eggs in dressings and homemade mayonnaise for years, but then again I'm a healthy 22-year old. Obviously I wouldn't serve any of these dishes to young children, the immunocompromised, or the elderly. YMMV.
posted by Lycaste at 6:24 PM on August 29, 2005

If you substitute half of the oil in the Good Seasons pre-made cruet mix/recipe with honey, results are damn tasty.
posted by ferociouskitty at 7:01 PM on August 29, 2005

Great quick sesame dressing for a simple salad of spinach, red onion, and carrot:

1 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. soy sce.
1 T. dark sesame oil
1 t. minced fresh ginger
1 t. minced fresh garlic
...and sprinkle the result with sesame seeds. Addictive.

In addition to emulsification, I'll share one other chefly tip from my restaurant career. Never pour dressing over salad and serve it. Instead, put your greens (several cups) and 1 or 2 Tablespoons of dressing in a bowl that is quite large. Use tongs to toss the salad around in the bowl to completely coat each leaf. Then serve the salad in a separate plate or (appropriately sized) bowl. This uses much, much less dressing than pouring it on top of greens or into your serving bowl, cutting fat and calories while vastly improving flavor in every bite.
posted by Miko at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2005

If you need it super-quick (this is our lazy, every day dressing):

equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a squirt of mustard, a smaller squirt of ketchup, a dash of sea salt and some fresh-ground pepper. Shake.

Takes about 45 seconds.
posted by jalexei at 7:19 PM on August 29, 2005

try the salade lyonnaise -- frissée leaves with chopped bacon, mustard dressing, croutons and a poached egg on top (you can even add warmed duck gizzard confit, if you find it). and walnuts are cool
posted by matteo at 7:19 PM on August 29, 2005

matteo - I had something like that at Batali's Bistro du Vent in NY recently. It was absolutely the best thing I've ever eaten in New York! Any idea how to make the mustard dressing? Is the frisee tossed in bacon fat?
posted by footnote at 7:32 PM on August 29, 2005

Shake 4 tbsps good olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tbsp tamari soy sauce together. Add tomatoes, onions, and fresh basil or parsley and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 15-60 minutes so that the flavors come out into the dressing. Shake again before serving.

In the summmer, I might add a bit of lemon juice and black pepper, especially if there's avocado in the salad. For winter salads like frisée, endive, or chicory I'll add a raw egg yolk like Lycaste says.

Mustard also works to emulsify the dressing, but I find I only like the taste with winter salads. You don't necessarily need to do CunningLinguist's fancy mixing technique if you shake the ingredients together vigorously.

Miko's advice about mixing the dressing with the salad is absolutely right. Always mix the dressing at the very last minute, or it will make the salad wilt (unless you're using indestructible American iceberg lettuce, in which case you should just leave this thread immediately).

It's really important to make sure that the salad is absolutely dry. Water can make the oil and vinegar separate and ruin the dressing. Buy a salad spinner and use it. If your greens are limp, let them soak in cold water in the fridge for an hour or so before drying.

I find that balsamic, sherry, and other fancy vinegars overpower the other tastes. I buy cheap red wine vinegar and put a fair amount of fresh tarragon in the bottle -- after a month it's delicious.

As for frisée with bacon, any hot ingredients in a salad go in at the very last minute, so that they don't make the salad wilt. You can mix them into the vinaigrette first, but if you're using an egg yolk make sure they're not too hot or they'll cook the yolk.
posted by fuzz at 8:08 PM on August 29, 2005

footnote -- the classic, old skool mustard dressing is about 2 tbspoons white wine vinegar, 6 tbspoon of really good olive oil (I love love love Tuscan olio extravergine, or olio extravergine Umbro), about half ½ tsp of kickass original Dijon mustard, half garlic clove (peeled), a wee pinch of sugar, salt + freshly ground black pepper

no, I wouldn't toss it -- keep it light, especially if you add thr duck and walnuts. eggs and bacon make it fatty enough, the mustard dressing is supposed to give it a bit of acidic, dry kick exactly to play against the egg and bacon
posted by matteo at 8:23 PM on August 29, 2005

Okay...nice answers, but here's a follow-up question that may help the search: My dad used to have a great little jar that he would put olive oil and lemon juice in to emulsify it -- it was plastic and snapped together at the middle, kind of a cylinder shape but about the size of a small jar. I have yet to find something like it in my adult life that would be good to give a good shake to dressings - whisking just won't do with some of these recipes! Any suggestions?
posted by gingembre at 9:00 PM on August 29, 2005

My favourite dressing - North African Lemon Dressing:

peel of 2 lemons
1/4c of lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp red pepper or tabasco
2 cloves garlic
2/3 to 3/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp of each: ground coriander, dry mustard, cumin and paprika
1 tsp sugar

Throw it all into a blender and mix. It's good with a salad made of sliced tomatoes, cucumber, sweet peppers and sweet onion (I use red onion) or on a fruit salad.
posted by squeak at 9:33 PM on August 29, 2005

Saw this on a cooking show yesterday, and tried it for my salad today. It was interesting and tasty. Vaguely cheese flavored. It's surprisingly low cal, since cream has about 45 calories a tablespoon, while oil has 100 calories more for the same amount.

Cream Dressing

1/4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar (pref. red wine)
salt & pepper to taste.

Put the cream, salt, and pepper in your salad bowl and whisk until it's frothy and double in volume (about 15 seconds). Drizzle in the vinegar, and whisk again until mixed. (The vinegar will actually cause the cream to thicken even more. If you've overwhipped it, add a little water to dilute.) Add your salad greens and toss.
posted by crunchland at 11:45 PM on August 29, 2005

k8t - does that all go in a blender or can you just mince & shake?

Mince and shake
posted by k8t at 4:23 AM on August 30, 2005

I use straight balsamic vinegar, sometimes lime juice for variety.
posted by talitha_kumi at 8:38 AM on August 30, 2005

Get a bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian and pour out the oil (you'll need to take off the plastic cap at the top in order to pour out just the oil). Replace oil with lemon juice. Add mint and oregano. Really good on greek salads.
posted by necessitas at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2005

I'm all for DIY, but for my money Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette kicks some serious ass. I could drink that stuff.
posted by fletchmuy at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2005

I've heard of making salad dressings with the fat from meat that's being served as a main course (e.g. the drippings from roast chicken). I would imagine that I could just sub in the selected fat for the oil in many of the above recipes, but are there any special instructions or precautions for meat fats? e.g. is the fat going to harden or congeal if i do x, or will it emulsify more slowly unless I add y? Is it going to go bad if I make it in advance? Does it need to be kept warm? Any particular recipes that work well for various fats (duck, chicken, bacon, beef, etc.)?

gingembre - a small metal cocktail shaker works wonderfully, just make sure you hold the lid on tight as it doesn't form the "seal" that it would with an icy cocktail.
posted by rorycberger at 8:45 PM on August 30, 2005

I make this salad three or four times a week as the only meal of my day:

Romaine lettuce
Onion (optional)
Tomato (optional)
Garlic (optional)
Carrots (optional)
A sprinkle of lemon juice
A sprinkle of Worchestershire
A sprinkle of Crystal hot sauce
A generous amount of salt
An even more generous amount of pepper
A thick coating of grated Parmesan or Asiago
Dabble with blue cheese (optional)
Tarragon vinegar to taste
A modest coating of extra virgin olive oil

Toss, top with pre-cooked chicken strips and croutons. For an added kick, coat the chicken strips in maple syrup and Paul Prudhomme's Creole seasoning, and stick them in the toaster oven while preparing the salad.
posted by jbrjake at 5:38 PM on August 31, 2005

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