Photo by Rhoda Peacher
Homemade basil-garlic vinaigrette tastes excellent on a caprese salad made from farm-fresh tomatoes and homemade mozzarella.
I don’t think there’s any single element that does more to move your meals from good to gourmet than homemade dressings for salads, whether they feature greens; raw, steamed or grilled vegetables; fresh fruit, meat or fish; or a starch, like beans, pasta or potatoes.
It’s not just maximizing memorable flavors from minimal preparation time, it’s also that making homemade dressings is addictive and endlessly creative. Once you get in the groove, you’ll find yourself looking at all kinds of ingredients as candidates for homemade salad dressings. Soy sauce and tahini? Sure thing. Pureed mangoes and fresh ginger? Why not? Once you start seeing salad-dressing possibilities, you’ll be amazed at what you can make from ingredients you have on hand. (Don’t forget to write down your creations!) And the fresh flavors are simply incomparable.
I started making homemade salad dressings out of necessity, because I had trouble digesting the garlic powder, artificial thickeners and excessive salt found in many commercially prepared dressings. It quickly became a matter of taste and—though it might sound odd—respect for the integrity of other ingredients. Especially when we can use vegetables and herbs from our own gardens, the salads we make from scratch deserve dressings as fresh and honest as their fixings.
Get started with these homemade salad dressings: