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Tuesday 4th February 2020. Feisty Foodie Sara and Salad dressings.

February 4, 2020


Tuesday, that means Feisty Foodie Sara Solomon is with us and today it is all about salad dressings: One of my favourite things to eat is salad, and I often get asked how to make a perfect simple dressing!  So, today we’re going to talk about tips and recipes for delicious salad dressings.

Tips to making the perfect vinaigrette:

Basic formula:  A ratio of 3:1 is a general rule of thumb

  • Obviously this can be adjusted depending on how tangy you want something or how strong the vinegar you are using is, but it’s a perfect place to start!

The Oils:  I tend to use only extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for my vinaigrettes, but you can also use vegetable oil, salad oil or other light neutrally flavours oils like soybean, safflower or canola.

The Vinegars: My go-to is balsamic, or sometimes red wine vinegar (if I don’t have balsamic), but you can also use apple cider (if you want a slightly sweet flavor) or Rice vinegar, for a more Asian style

Tip:  I like apple cider vinegar in my coleslaw dressing

Juices:  Citrus juices ad a nice hint of acidity and can enhance the vinegar.  I like adding a touch of lemon juice in addition to the vinegar, but I also have some recipes that use the citrus to replace the vinegar!  You can also add orange or lime, just make sure it’s balanced and not too tart!

 Tip:  Make sure to keep your ratio the same, reduce the vinegar a little if you are adding tart citrus juice

The Seasonings!  A simple vinaigrette doesn’t need more seasoning than a bit of Kosher salt and ground pepper. Minced garlic, onion, shallot, and herbs are often part of the mix, along with spices such as celery seed, paprika, and others. Sometimes I add basil, parsley or Italian seasoning.  Other ingredients, such as mustard or Worcestershire sauce, are common as well.

I like a touch of sweetness, just to balance it out, so I add a bit of honey, which is nice to counterbalance the tartness from vinegar or citrus. It also helps stabilize the emulsion.

Tip:  A vinaigrette with honey in it will remain emulsified for a longer time. Honey vinaigrettes are great for presentations where you don’t want the oil and vinegar separating all over the plate.  You can also use agave or maple syrup, if you prefer.

Mixing is important!  The most effective way of combining the oil and the vinegar is in a blender, but if you don’t want to get it dirty like me,  you can combine everything in a glass jar or Tupper wear.  Just shake well and you’re done.  Or you can whisk everything thoroughly together stainless steel bowl, if you didn’t make excess.

NOTE:  Just don’t use an aluminum bowl—the acid in the vinegar can react with the aluminum, producing a metallic flavor.

Tips:  For best results, all your ingredients should be at room temperature when you begin. The cooler the oil, the more difficult it is to make an emulsion.

Once you’ve mixed things up, it’s nice to let the flavors meld for a while, especially when you go beyond the basic formula and introduce additional ingredients like minced onion, garlic, herbs, and so on. Ideally, you’d prepare the vinaigrette in advance and then let it sit for 1 to 3 hours. Just don’t refrigerate it during this time!

Sara’s Everyday Vinaigrette

2/3 cup EVOO

Just under 1/3 cup balsamic

Juice of ½ a lemon

Small garlic clove, crushed

½ tsp of Dijon mustard

Bit of honey

Salt and pepper

Herbs optional (if you want), based on what you have (basil, parsley or Italian seasoning)

Shake together well in a resealable jar or container

To make dressings creamy, you have a few options:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Mayonnaise
  • Buttermilk (if you can find it here)


  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp EACH dried dill, parsley, chives, black pepper & garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp white sugar (add a little less and adjust accordingly)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes (or more) to allow flavours to develop.  Use milk to adjust to desired consistency (if necessary).

Tip:  This dressing goes great with more study lettuces like romaine and is delicious with corn, cherry tomatoes, carrots, red onion, beets and bacon

For more herbaceous dressings, I prefer using a small mixer so that he herbs get well incorporated and the oil gets emulsified.  I love most softer fresh herbs such a basil, parsley, mint and cilantro in my dressings.  If my dressings are herb focused, I prefer to use fresh over dried, as opposed to my everyday vinigaiette.



1/2 cup white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 bunch parsley, stemmed
3 tablespoons basil, chopped


Combine all ingredients except oil in a small blender.  Slowly add in EVOO to emulsify.

Some other fun ingredients you can play around with:

  • Anchovies
  • Flavoured oils like hazelnut or avocado
  • Raspberries, raspberry jam (or raspberry vinegar)
  • Adding a coddled egg yolk
  • Pickle juice (this is a great, under-utilized, and often thrown away ingredient

Tip:  When you’re at the end of your mustard or jam bottle, use it to mix your salad dressing right in there, and you have ZERO waste!

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