No more boring salad dressings… please


Summer is salad season and these days just about any fruit, vegetable, nut, grain, fish, meat or cheese, or combination thereof can be found lying on a bed of greens just waiting to tantalize and surprise. The best salads have a combination of colors and textures as well as flavors.  I like to arrange my chosen vegetables in groups rather than tossing them on a bed of greens in a large shallow pasta bowl. This not only adds color and definition it allows my guests a choice…so if someone doesn’t like onion or cucumber, no problem.


What a shame to offer up wonderful fresh ingredients and then smother it with a bottled dressing, especially when homemade salad dressings are inexpensive and so easy to prepare. I would venture to say that most cooks no matter how modest the skill or bare the cupboard has the ingredients for a fresh and tasty homemade salad dressing.


Here are some very easy dressings with variations that will please any salad lover.


Basic Vinaigrette

1 cup olive oil

4-5 Tbs. red wine, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar

½ - 1 tsp salt

1-2 medium cloves of garlic minced or garlic powder

Combine in a jar, cover tightly and shake

Vinaigrette variations: instead of garlic use Mrs. Dash or other favorite spice mixtures.

If your salad requires a sweeter dressing or is just desired add 1-3 Tbs honey or favorite

 jam or jelly for a sweet and fruity flavor

To give a tangy or sweet flavor- add 3-4 Tbs. orange juice or 2Tbs. grated lemon rind

Fresh herbs give a spicier deeper flavor- add dried or fresh (finely chopped) basil, dill

 chives or thyme

For creamy vinaigrettes add 2- Tbs. mayonnaise, sour cream, or yogurt

To add a nutty flavor use ¾ olive oil and ¼ nut oil


Sweet or Tart Mustard Dressings

6-7 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. Dijon or other brown mustard

4 Tbs. red wine, balsamic or apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. real maple syrup or honey- more if desired

Salt and pepper to taste

For a milder mustard flavor add one raw egg, preferably organic


Low fat Ranch Dressings

1 c buttermilk

2-3 Tbs. sour cream, mayonnaise or ¼ cottage cheese (optional)

2-3 Tbs. dried onion flakes

¼- ½ tsp salt- to taste

1 tsp. lemon juice

Generous portion of black pepper

Ranch variations:

Add ½ crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese

For creamy garlic add 1-2 cloves crushed finely minced garlic

Add both for garlic blue


I prefer to mix my dressings in a blender of food processor; it marries the flavors quickly but certainly is not necessary. Tomato paste goes well in the vinaigrettes if red dressings are preferred. More salt or sugar may be needed. It’s such fun when guests ask “My I take the left over dressing home?” Till next time, Rebecca