We often get asked about salad dressing. Why don't we sell any in the shop? The obvious answer is that we have not enough shelf space. The less obvious but just as valid answer is that is just is sooo easy to make. And it will be much better than anything you can buy.
In our house, Colin is the salad chef, so he gets to make the magic salad sauce. Here is our special recipe:
The two basic ingredients of a salad dressing are oil and acid.
We always use olive oil, but you can use any oil you like. The acid part is usually some type of vinegar (cider vinegar, balsamic, wine vinegar, etc) but could also be citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange...)
The magic proportion for a good salad dressing is 3 to 1 : that is 3 parts oil, 1 part acid.
You can measure this in spoonfuls, cupfuls or finger-highs, just stick to the 3:1 ratio.
Vigorously mix until thick and shiny; the emulsion comes together once the droplets of the water-based acid have fully dispersed into the oil - use can use a fork, or a whisk, or shake it.
Top tip: make a larger batch in a jar. It keeps well for a few days, so most evenings all you need to do is shake and pour.
More magic happens when you add a few simple extras - those add-on ingredients that boost flavour and also contribute to the binding (emulsifying) of the oil and water base, making the dressing thicker and smoother.
Examples of emulsifiers: mustard, honey, maple syrup, pomegranate molasses, soy sauce, tahini, mayonnaise, yoghurt,...
Examples of extra flavourings: a touch of garlic or chilli, ground ginger, other spices, fresh or dried herbs
You have to find your own favourite combination, but for the record, here is two of our's:
vinaigrette: olive oil, balsamic, mustard, pomegranate molasses
Asian: olive oil, lemon juice, ground ginger, honey, soy sauce
Other good things to add into a salad: 'salady' things are obviously nice in a salad, but you if you can add some contrast and/or substance with simple things already in your kitchen, you can really boost the 'wow' effect of your salad!
add flavour: olives, capers, pickled onion, artichoke hearts, grated cheese, ...
add texture: toasted seeds or nuts (anything from pine kernels to chopped nuts to coconut flakes), crutons, crispy fried bacon or tofu
add substance: left over boiled potatoes, rice or pasta, beans, lentils, hard boiled eggs, tinned fish, ...
Get creative - you won't regret it. At the very least, make some special salad sauce!