We started with Salads being not so native to us Indians, then definitely salad dressings are as alien, and with so many bottled dressings available off the shelf these days, we do tend to get tempted. But take my word for it, once you get into the habit of making your own salad dressing you will realise how easy is it to mix up your dressing in minutes and its so much more delicious compared to the high on preservatives, salt and sugar bottled ones.
A Basic salad dressing, or a vinaigrette is : 2:1 Oil + Acidity + Salt + Pepper
Oil and an acidic element form the base of any dressing. Oil, mostly an extra virgin olive oil, i always prefer the Figaro brand, this because this is most edible in the raw form, and also helps in digesting the raw leaves and veggies which otherwise tend to get very dry. Once you start exploring, even the oil can be replaced with other oils like sesame oil if you are adding drilled chicken. If your salad has some asian elements then replacing the oil partly with fish oil takes the dressing to a different level. Can’t stress more that only trial and error can tell you which taste suits your palette.
Acidity can come from as basic as lemon juice, or vinegar, or white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and the options are unlimited, only with trial and error would you understand what suits you best. I also use citrus juices or any fruit juice like orange juice or pomegranate juice to replace half of the lemon sometimes to give the salad that freshness, and also a fruity zing.
Since the 2 liquids are very different in their consistency, a final heavy shake is very important, to perform emulsification of the molecules of these two liquids and other liquids with a different consistency than these two, just helps in speeding up the emulsification and also enhances the taste, like some mustard sauce, or simply honey.
Apart from these points the oil and acidity element also changes with the other elements in the salad you plan to create. Like if you want your salad to be like and fresh, a plain lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette feels the best, but sometimes just adding a balsamic vinaigrette changes the same salad to another salad with a ver different outlook and taste. Sometimes the veggies are raw, sometimes the protein is grilled, depending on that we may want to add some soy, or fish sauce or honey mustard or yogurt to add flavours to the salad. Additives like Yogurt makes the salad light and not too dry.
Now, to add that extra flavours that we just mentioned, there are various things that act as add ons to add various, sour, spicy, sweetness, etc elements to the dressing. The most common add ons are chopped garlic, capers, chopped herbs, chopped onions, sesame seed. Apart from just the acidic element and oil, sometimes making dressings with honey mustard, or blue cheese or yogurt, fish sauce, bbq sauce also add layers of flavors in the regular vinaigrette.
Here are some salad dressings to get you thinking.