The truth is, my husband is the boss of salad dressings in our home. I pick & prep the salad ingredients, and mix everything together, but somehow every time he seems to make something, magic happens with the dressing. Then he shrugs it off as though it’s nothing.
Luckily over the past decade I’ve managed to pick up a few of his tricks, and have never had to buy a bottle of processed dressing. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- You can pretty much always make a decent dressing from whatever is on hand in a regularly stocked kitchen.
- A big key is balancing the acidic and alkaline ingredients for the base
- Our alkaline is almost always olive oil.
- Top of the list for acids would be limes or lemons. Balsamic sounds good, but is tricky because it’s so strong that more than a few drops become overpowering. Things like pickle juice or old wine that’s gone off in the fridge can be your acidic ingredient in a pinch.
- Season liberally and at will. You basically can’t mess it up, just keep adding ingredients until it tastes good to you.
- Mustard or Coleman’s mustard powder is pretty much always a good choice.
- If you like a kick, mince seeded jalapenos or shallots and marinate in your dressing while you prep the salad ingredients. If you like a lot of kick leave them in. For a little kick, scoop most of them out with a slotted spoon or a fork.
- Fresh herbs are also a great add in. Cilantro, tarragon, mint, and basil are some of our favorites.
With these tricks in mind I set out to create a dressing for a lentil veggie salad I was planning while traveling in the South of France. Unfortunately I was staying in an apartment with a kitchen that had salt, rosemary, and oregano. No other spices. That’s right – not even pepper. Still, I managed to pull together the tasty tomato shallot dressing below.
Have you ever put together an unexpected and delicious dressing by improvising with the ingredients on hand? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Tomato Shallot Dressing
- 1 small shallot
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T tomato juice
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Sprinkle of rosemary
- Salt to taste (& pepper ideally, lol)
Slice shallot thinly
Wisk all other ingredients together with a fork
Add shallots to mixture
Let stand for at least 20 minutes
Add to salad and toss
* Measurements are approximate, and completely driven by personal opinion. Taste frequently and adjust at will for best results.