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 mixing them into 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 Tbsp honey, favorite

 jam or jelly for a sweet and fruity flavor

To give a tangy sweet flavor- add 3-4 Tbsp. orange juice or 2Tbsp. 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- Tbsp. 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 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. Dijon or other brown mustard

4 Tbsp. 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 Tbsp. sour cream, mayonnaise or ¼ cottage cheese (optional)

2-3 Tbsp. 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 brings the flavors quickly but certainly is not necessary. Tomato paste goes well in any vinaigrette if a red dressing are preferred. More salt or sugar may be needed. It’s such fun when guests ask “My I take the rest of the dressing home?” Till next time, Rebecca