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Salad Dressing demystified (inc. Easy Peasy Mayonnaise)

There is so much stuff and nonsense talked about salad dressing; whisk this, extra-virgin that, meh!  Salad dressings are easy and delicious. So here’s a post ‘Salad Dressing demystified (inc. Easy Peasy Mayonnaise)’ to put it all straight! Salad dressings can make a proper meal of a few leaves and they only have three (ish) ingredients: oil, vinegar and other stuff.  This is Salad Dressing demystified (inc. Easy Peasy Mayonnaise).

The point of dressing a salad is to put some flavour on the leaves.  The oil helps it stick, the vinegar adds that all important acidity and the other stuff zips it all up.  There are many, many variations but they all follow the same basic set-up. To see how they work get a piece of lettuce or cucumber and dip it in some vinegar, have a taste, gorgeous isn’t it. Now add a splash of oil and some salt and pepper – even more gorgeous eh!

The equipment you need to make salad dressings:  an old jam jar and, if you want to get really fancy, a hand blender. Here’s 6 variations on the basic oil and vinegar theme.  Use them as  a starting point and don’t be scared to experiment and really mix it up.

1. BASIC 50ml malt vinegar, 150 ml vegetable oil, a good turn of salt and pepper.  Shake it all up in the jam jar and pour it on your leaves.  So, so simple. There’s no need to go spending loads on fancy oils and vinegars, this does the job, simply.

2. BASIC PLUS 50ml red wine vinegar, 150ml olive oil, a big teaspoon of any smooth mustard, salt, pepper.  When you shake this up you’ll see how the mustard helps the oil and the vinegar to mix together – this is called ’emulsifying’ more of this later (see6).

3. HERBY 50ml balsamic vinegar, 150ml olive oil, 1 clove of crushed garlic, handful of finely chopped fresh herbs (try tarragon, parsley and chives).  Shake this up for a real herby hit.  Great with really simple salads, especially a pile of plain Iceberg lettuce.

4. FRUITY 50ml cider vinegar (or a fruit vinegar if you can find one), 150ml of flavourless oil (ground nut or sunflower), 2 teaspoons of fruit jam (raspberry is best), salt, pepper.  Shake until the jam dissolves, add with some dried fruit and seeds (dried cranberries are lovely, raisins and sultanas work just as well.)

5. CAESAR 150 ml flavourless oil, 50ml white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 4 anchovies, finely chopped with a clove of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of mild mustard (Dijon is good), juice of a lemon, handful of finely grated parmesan cheese, 2 egg yolks.  Shake this up really well (sometimes a bit of a whisk helps to get it smooth).  A real classic, great with croutons on a bed of Romaine.

6. EASY PASY MAYO-NAZY Use a handblender for this, and the cup that came with it (i.e. a jug that just fits head of the blender).  Add IN THIS ORDER WITH THE BLENDER STANDING IN THE JUG (really important that bit). 1 egg, juice of a lemon, 1 teaspoon of mild mustard, good pinch of salt, 200ml of flavourless oil.  Start the blender on full speed at the bottom of the jug then slowly lift it through the mix.  A little bit of kitchen magic!

You’re Welcome! Enjoy

Drop us a comment and let us know what you think – and any suggestions of your own!

C & C x

 

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