Salad Dressings
The dressing can really make or break a salad. And if you think it would be quite hard to go wrong you obviously haven't tasted those supermarket bottles of salad dressing that taste of sick.
My first salad dressing rule of thumb: avoid the taste of sick.

You want to start with a simple vinaigrette - a nice oil no, Canola oil is not a nice oil: it tastes of sick, shaken up with fresh fruit juice no, not that bottle of lemon juice from the back of the fridge: that tastes of sick or a nice vinegar I'm sure you're getting the message... and a generous amount of seasoning. That's sea salt and freshly ground pepper. About twice the volume of oil to juice gives a nice rich emulsion. And yes the basics do matter. That's how you avoid the taste of sick.

Now you're ready to kick it up a notch:
Some salad dressing ideas
Salad Dressing Basics
salad sauce veg
The Vinaigrette
Variations on the vinegar, fruit juice & oil combo:
For Example:
Orange juice,
a grinding of mixed peppercorns, allspice and caraway seeds,
dose of salt, dash of sherry vinegar top up with olive oil.
Kiwi Dressing
Mashed kiwis (soft ones work best), orange juice, salt,
ground mixed peppercorns and a few Jamaican allspice,
crushed garlic, olive & chilli oil.
Caper Dressing:
Crush and grind capers and green olives,
add pepper and salt grinding, lime juice, garlic (?)
top up with olive oil.
Honey Lime:
Mix equal quantities of lime and honey.
Yum tastes good!
Berry:
Crush or purée raspberries (or other berries) with a drizzle of vinegar or lemon juice and mint leaves (or other herbs).
Push the mush through a sieve to remove the seeds, season with salt, pepper and sugar and add oil.
Garlic and Soy dressing:
Orange juice, generous soy sauce, crushed garlic cloves, dash hot sauce, dash balsamic (optional).
Double up with olive oil, salt to taste.
Garlic and Soy dressing II:
The addition of an emulsifier such as egg yolk, mustard, or even miso paste or tahini will also extend the length of time the dressing remains mixed:
Balsamic vinegar, generous soy sauce, crushed garlic cloves, salt, a drool of tahini (!)
top up with olive oil, perhaps a little chilli oil.
The Yoghurt Base
Vinaigrette with yoghurt substituting for the oil, tahini is a nice addition, and you can add cream (or sour cream) for richness:
Honey Mustard dressing:
A little vinegar (Balsamic) spoonfuls of mustard and honey, top up with yoghurt.
Beetroot:
Finely chopped beetroot, a spoon or two of sweet "apple and sage" preserve, orange juice, top up with yoghurt.
Berry:
As above but with yoghurt instead of some or all of the oil.
Makes a tasty dressing for a light couscous salad.
The oily yoghurt base
As above, add yoghurt but to the oily vinaigrette:
The dressing can curdle particularly if too much tahini is added too quickly. You might best avoid this by mixing the liquid ingredients and the yoghurt first, then adding the oil and tahini gradually blending or shaking frequently. Mixing the oil and liquids then adding the yoghurt does work but you have to be a bit careful about it. Make sure you shake really well.

You can rescue a curdled mixture by mixing a fresh batch of yoghurt and liquids, then gradually adding the curdled dressing to this, blending frequently. Just like mayonnaise.

Creamy Garlic, Tahini and Soy:
Similar to the Garlic and Soy vinaigrette;
Balsamic vinegar, generous soy sauce, crushed garlic cloves, salt, hot sauce, a dollop of tahini and a few teaspoons of sesame seeds (if you like).
Pour in some olive oil, with a seasoning of sesame oil and shake thoroughly, then top up with yoghurt, blending as you go. Loosen with orange or lemon juice if necessary.
Mayonnaise
Variations on the usual mayonnaise:
Anchovy and yoghurt mayonnaise:
Shake/whisk whole raw eggs and vinegar (lemon juice?), garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce.
Gradually add ground/finely chopped anchovies and their oil, shaking well. Add some extra olive oil, then about the same quantity of yoghurt.
It tastes surprisingly good!
Goes well with a simple Caesar-like salad with fried bacon bits, bacon-fat croutons, black olives, maybe feta cheese, spring onions, tomatoes, mixed-leaf herb salad.
Strawberry Mayonnaise:
Goes well with avocadoes.

Blue Cheese Dressings
salad sauce raw
Ingredients
Sour cream
Mayonnaise
Blue cheese

Optional Extras
vinegar
lemon juice
garlic (pressed, minced or powder)
mustard powder
onion (minced)
Worcestershire sauce
puréed avocado quite nice with lemon and garlic - a kind of blue cheese guacamole
parsley
seasoning
Method
Generally recipes seem to use a mixture of Sour Cream and Mayonnaise, sometimes 50/50, sometimes with more mayonnaise. Alternatively you could replace the mayonnaise with cream cheese, fromage blanc, or yoghurt.
Choose your blue cheese - Roquefort is nice, Gorgonzola piccante is good, but Blue Castello is also popular. You will need about the same quantity of cheese as sour cream or mayonnaise. Possibly double.
Add whatever of the optional ingredients you might fancy. Capers might work too I suppose

Round One
Used 50/50 mayonnaise and crème fraîche, tarragon vinegar, chopped tarragon, Dolcellate and St. Agur. - It was a bit cloying - it's easy to overdo the vinegar, don't add any salt, use plenty of cheese, probably the Dolcellate was too creamy, maybe a stronger crumblier blue like stilton would have worked better.
Not too bad though. The tarragon was nice I thought.
Round Two
Used 50/50 mayonnaise and crème fraîche, lemon juice, chopped tarragon, St. Agur and Roquefort.
Nicer - don't overdo the lemon juice.
Round Three
1 large Tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 large Tablespoon crème fraîche, 1/2 lemon (juiced), 1 clove garlic pressed, 2 Tablespoons Roquefort (perhaps 40g), 1 Tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped.
Mash the Roquefort into the lemon juice, tarragon and garlic. Whisk in the cream and mayonnaise.
Yum!
Round Four
Shropshire Blue cheese (Roquefort was better), Lime juice (still prefer lemon), tarragon, garlic
Yep, back to Round Three

Blue Cheese Dip
salad sauce raw veg
A variation on the theme above, but with some added chunks.

Ingredients
6 oz Danish Saga/Blue Castello or a blue Brie
2 tblsps mayonnaise
2 tblsps natural yoghurt
½ green pepper
½ oz walnuts
pepper
paprika
Method
Thinly remove the cheese rind, soften the cheese with a fork in a bowl, add the mayonnaise, yoghurt, and beat until smooth.
Add the finely chopped walnut and the pepper and spices.

Dojo's Salad Dressing
salad sauce raw veg vegan
Dojo's on Saint Marks Place, New York City used to do a fabulous carrot dressing which went well with their whole roast potatoes. It also had a pretty good soy burger with America's take on Munster cheese. I believe it has now closed down.
Here are a few variations on their dressing from teh interweb.

Ingredients
1 small carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons rice vinegar and/or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tsp dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
¼ cake silken tofu (about 3 ounces)
Ingredients 2
1 small carrot
2 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp rice vinegar
3 to 4 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
½ tbsp ginger root
¼ cake silken tofu
garlic (1 small piece)
½ very small onion
salt to taste
Add a vegetable based oil for desired consistency.
Ingredients 2
2 Small, peeled carrots
4 TBS Mirin
4 TBS regular Japanese rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS fresh, grated ginger
½ lb silken tofu (this is the VERY soft kind-at most supermarkets)
½ inch slice of a small red onion
¼ tsp sugar
½ small clove of garlic
pinch of salt
canola oil (optional - for desired consistency)
Method
Put all ingredients in blender. Stir before serving. Keeps about a week.

Lime-Mint Dressing
salad sauce raw veg vegan
Ingredients
¾ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
¼ cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Ingredients
Mix all the ingredients, place a cube of ice in the dressing and beat until the mixture thickens to the consistency of medium cream sauce.
Use for tossed greens or coleslaw.

Anchovy Dressing
Spicy anchovy dressing
salad sauce fish

Ingredients
Method
Grind up the tin of anchovies in a mortar along with several mixed peppercorns, a few caraway seeds, a few all-spice corns, a few dried, red chillies for bite, a generous dose of rock salt (the anchovies are surprisingly un-salty!) to a good thick paste.

Now add three or so (not too many) crushed plump garlic cloves, the grated lime peel, a generous dash of Worcesteshire Sauce and perhaps a splash of Balsamic Vinegar, and a drizzle of honey.
Grind until a smooth paste consistency is achieved then add in a jar to a generous amount of virgin olive oil and the juice of the lime, or maybe a squeeze of lemon. Shake up the lot.
Makes a good dressing for an otherwise bland, rooty salad.
Say one consisting of grated mooli root, grated carrot, chopped raisins, cucumber, tomato, red onion, maybe a little mint.

Lime And Honey Dressing
salad sauce raw veg
As simple as it gets - mix equal quantities of lime and honey.
Yum tastes good!
Could maybe be used as a general sauce too.
Ingredients
  • lime
  • honey

Kiwi Dressing
salad sauce raw veg vegan

Ingredients
Method
Peel and crush the kiwis with some mixed coloured peppercorns, salt and a few Jamaican allspice in a pestle. It's best to use over-ripe kiwis which mash up easily.
Grind in some garlic cloves, mix with the juice of an orange, olive oil and a drizzle of chilli oil for pep.

Cucumber Salad Dressing
salad sauce raw fish
Apparently this made a good dressing for a sliced cucumber salad.
Though I can no longer remember the salad, I bet it had a bit of red chilli in it and maybe some crushed peanuts.

Ingredients

Ranch Dressing
salad dip raw veg
Invented by Steve Henson at the Hidden Vally Ranch, California, yep, it was a real place! this dressing seems to have been originally popularised through the mailing of dried ingredient packs for addicted Americans to mix into mayonnaise and buttermilk.
So if you want an authentic flavour you'll have to dry your herbs before you use them!
This is my own interpretation of the classic dressing - I like sour cream which adds a nice rich flavour, but it does take away some of the final tang, you can substitute mayonnaise for as much of the sour cream as you like.

It's also my favourite Pringles flavour.
Hmmmmm Pringles.

Fills a jam jar

Ingredients
Method
Crush the garlic to a paste, whip together the ingredients, but add in only half the buttermilk. Gradually add the remaining buttermilk until you are happy with the consistency. Stop adding if it gets too runny.
Feel free to substitute mayonnaise for any amount of the sour cream.
Season to taste.
I like a teaspoon of my fabulous Forum Chardonnay vinegar, but you might try adding cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, a little ground onion, coriander, or whatever else floats your boat.
Paprika, black pepper, onion, garlic and mustard powder are traditional.
Pretty good, better if you make it ahead and let the flavours mature.

Russian Dressing
Ketchup-based salad dressing
sauce veg
Russian dressing was apparently invented by James Colburn in Nashua, New Hampshire USA in the 1910s. It's usually made with mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, hot sauce, chives (or onion) and other spices. The version I transcribed here seems to take some liberties!

Makes a cup

Ingredients
Method
Mince and mash the onion, or grind to a paste. Whisk in the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, ketchup, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and lime juice. Season with salt & sweet paprika.

Parmesan Dressing
A Parmesan mayonnaise salad dressing
salad sauce
An interesting dressing I caught on Come Dine with Me this is a bit like a Caesar salad dressing, but without the anchovies or the garlic. Or the Worcestershire sauce. Indeed Janet Ellis also served it with Caeser-style croutons but on a fennel salad with 'spicy' salad leaves.

Ingredients
Method
Combine the egg yolks and mustard, whisk in the oil and vinegar. Add the grated cheese and lemon juice. Mix well.

Coriander Dressing
salad sauce raw veg
Particularly good with a melon and ham salad.

Ingredients
Method
Whizz up the coriander leaves and garlic with the lemon juice to a smooth paste.
Add the honey and drizzle in olive oil until you have a nice emulsion - around twice the existing volume of oil.
Season generously.
A delicious dressing.

Crispy Parma Ham
meat salad ingredient
Not exactly a dressing but a good topping for a green salad (as long as you don't leave it sitting around too long for the ham to get soft).
You need a good quality dry-cured ham for this. Serrano also works well.

Ingredients
Method
Heat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200°C/400°F.
Lay the ham out without overlap on a baking tray (it shouldn't need to be silicone or non-stick, the ham will produce quite enough lubrication as it bakes).
Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the ham darkens and loses its moisture. Check the ham slices after 5 minutes and flip them over, or move them around so they can better dry out.
Take them out and set aside to cool and harden.
The ham is easily crumbled to make an excellent salad topping, though the pieces will quickly soften if mixed in and left for very long.

Gribiche Sauce
A mustard mayonnaise made from hard boiled eggs
veg salad sauce
You can use this as a salad dressing, but it also makes a good sauce for steamed vegetables or with fish.
Use a nice nut oil, or a fairly neutral one - rapeseed or grapeseed.
Chop the ingredients up to be all about the same size - minced or chunked you decide!

Ingredients
Method
Ensure that all the ingredients are at room temperature, in particular the eggs and oil: this makes emulsifying easier. Press the egg yolks through a sieve and chop up the egg whites as finely as you like.
Put the egg yolks, mustard, and vinegar in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the bowl on a dampened dishtowel, to keep it steady, and gradually pour in the oil in a thin stream, whisking all the time with the other hand, until it begins to thicken and forms an emulsion.

When all the oil has been incorporated and the mayonnaise is thick, stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning to taste. Add rinsed and chopped capers, chopped herbs, chopped gherkin, and egg whites. You can add a splash of Worcestershire sauce to the finished sauce too, if you like.
A good dressing - bags of flavour. Even when it separates.

Basil Oil
veg vegan sauce ingredient
This is Lesley Olson's technique that she uses to make a general herb oil. It can be a bit intense as a dressing oil, so it might benefit from adding in a mix of other herbs.

If you leave it to chill in the fridge, you should be able to pour off a clear, attractive emerald oil which will float on top of the watery, cloudy component that settles out.

Ingredients
Method
Heat enough olive oil to cover the basil to 85°C.
Add the basil leaves and push them into the oil. Allow to cool, then blend and strain.
Pretty herby stuff. You want the oil to be hot enough to kill off the bacteria if you're planning on keeping it for a while. Otherwise, just hot enough to effectively draw out the flavours.

Strawberry Dressing
salad sauce veg vegan
This is a delicious dressing, if a bit sweet and potentially overbearing. Use judiciously

Ingredients
Method
Mix about equal quantities of jus de fraises and basil oil.
Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and thin with sherry vinegar until it has a nice acid/sweet balance.
Season.

Pomegranate Dressing
salad sauce veg vegan
Pomegranate molasses is basically just reduced pomegranate juice.
It makes a good rich base for a dressing, but it's a bit sweet and cloying so here I loosen it with some fresh pomegranate juice.

Should dress salad for 8 people

Ingredients
Method
Separate the seeds from the pomegranates. You don't want to have any of the bitter pith in with the seeds. If you slice the pomegranates across the middle and then pop each half back to invert it, it will open up nicely so you can more easily free the seeds. If you struggle to clean the seeds up it can help to cover them in water and pick out pith which will float to the surface.

Juice the seeds (keeping a few back for garnish if you like). A juicer is ideal for this, if you have one, otherwise you can grind them in a food processor, then carefully strain them through a fine sieve or muslin. Be careful though - pomegranate juice stains strongly.

Take about half or two-thirds of the juice and boil it down to a thick syrup.
Make up a vinaigrette with the syrup and olive oil. Add as much of the juice as you like to thin the dressing and give it a sharper tone.
Add crushed garlic and vinegar to taste, if you fancy.
Season.
Good stuff for dressing a mixed green salad - the pomegranate molasses is rich, but a bit cloying so you can add some regular juice, vinegar, or even lemon juice to lighten it.
You can chuck in a few whole pomegranate seeds too, if you like.

Pomegranate Salad Dressing
salad sauce veg
Another tart little pomegranate salad dressing, that's particularly good when marinated with thinly sliced red onion.
Perfect for dressing a Beetroot and Rhubarb Salad.

Ingredients
Method
In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, molasses, maple syrup, oil, allspice and season with salt and pepper.
If you like throw in some thinly sliced red onion and allow to marinate, then garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.
You could try adding some sumac for an extra-middle-eastern twist.