The “fridge clearing salad’ is an important meal in many a home cook’s weekly rotation. Finish those greens. Shred that last bit of rotisserie chicken. Use up the finale of that fancy Parmesan wedge. But the most important and flavorful part of any super-satisfying fridge salad is the dressing. Whether a creamy dressing is for you (Plated’s Culinary Team feels very passionately about ranch) or a vinaigrette is more your speed, we’ve rounded up a few pointers for making the most impressive dressing for whatever salad comes your way.
There are three main components in every homemade dressing–fat, acid, and flavorings–and the recipe (if we can even really call it that) is simple: 3 parts fat, 1 part acid, and up to 1 part flavor.
The fat in a vinaigrette is crucial for maximum leafy green coating! It balances the acid and provides a satisfying mouthfeel (aka the way foods coat your tongue). Cheffy tip: if you’re opting for sesame oil use less, it has a powerful taste. Sesame oil is best used in conjunction with a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed.
Bright, tangy acid will provide contrast to the oil in your vinaigrette and complement the salad’s components. Citrus provides fruity, floral notes, while acids (like vinegar) are good for punchiness!
Fresh herbs are a great addition to a salad that provides contrast from your main leafy green. Dried herbs achieve that “house Italian” or “house Greek” dressing you get at your favorite restaurants.
Now that you’re set and ready with all the ingredients you need for a flavorful dressing–let’s chat equipment. The best salad bowls are big (really big). The bigger the bowl, the better for tossing all those mix-ins together in one place. So find a bowl you think is big enough, then go up a size. Next, the whisk, neccessary for dressing making. To properly combine the oil and the acid of your choosing, it is important to emulsify the two together. Emulsification is the blending of two separate entities, in this case a fat and a liquid, that don’t want to be joined together. Whisks and a little hard work can get you there but if you need some help, we’ve got a figure 8 mixing tip that will have you whisking like a chef in no time.
Ready to get started? Try these simple recipes:
Whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice (acid) and salt and pepper (flavorings) to taste, then, whisking continuously, slowly add 3 tablespoons olive oil (fat) until fully combined.
Whisk together 3 tablespoons sour cream (fat), 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (acid), and 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped dill and chives (flavoring). Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and you have officially mastered Plated’s favorite dressing.