Nothing represents our failure as a culture as much as Salad Dressing. I know that’s a big statement, given all of the issues we are facing in the world today, but Salad Dressings have to be one of the most vile and evil things that we can possibly buy.
Let me explain.
First of all, the recipe for a basic salad dressing is:
- 1 part vinegar
- 3 parts oil
And that’s it. End of story.
So, here’s a homework project. Check you pantry. Do you have oil? Do you have vinegar or lemon juice? Great! Or…if not…get some the next time you are at the store. It doesn’t have to be fancy oil or vinegar, just plain old vegetable oil and white vinegar is fine…for a start.
Grab an old jar from that cupboard full of old jars and lids that ‘someday’ you are going to find uses for, and add a splash of vinegar. Don’t add much, just a good pour. If you have to have a measure, go with a 1/3 of a cup or a couple of shot glasses full (my personal favourite measure). Then add roughly three times more oil. Cap it and shake it.
Now make yourself a basic salad. Just lettuce. Fancy lettuce, plain lettuce, bagged lettuce, whatever you want. Drizzle on some of the dressing, and toss the lettuce around (best to use your finger tips, and toss gently). You want to just coat the leaves. And you are done.
Taste it. How good is that?
Now, think about some variety. A pinch of salt…a spoon of garlic…a turn of fresh cracked pepper…even a little bit of sugar. What’s that? You want to get fancy? Try a different oil, get a different vinegar. How about lemon juice instead? Or….how about some herbs, or a spoon of mustard…a dollop of mayonnaise…and now you are really cooking. I mean, really cooking…literally and figuratively, and we haven’t even addressed the salad mix yet!
So why is Salad Dressing so evil?
Well, $15 a litre, for a start. Emulsifiers, preservatives, and colouring agents, that’s why. The fact that we allow a market for Salad Dressings to even exist, is proof we are spiraling down a drain of culinary helplessness. Billions of dollars are spent on this ridiculous convenience, not counting the cost to the environment in plastic bottles and packaging.
You see, a salad dressing is analogous for all cooking. It can be complex, or it can be as simple as 2 ingredients. The point is, sometimes we buy things for no real reason, and all we are really doing is spending money that we could be using elsewhere, and filling our bodies with the ingredients and chemicals that food companies use to make their profits. Salad dressing is not a convenience food, so quit buying it. Instead, spend the money on some quality vinegar and oil.
Returning to the basics can be a very eye opening experience. Food doesn’t have to be, and should not be, a complicated chore. Don’t let Masterchef or MKR or Top Chef fool you. You don’t need a degree in cooking, or be practiced at complicated techniques, to make good food. Keep it simple, and most of all, keep it home made.
For gods sake people, make yourself a salad dressing.
Tips for a perfect Salad Dressing:
- Vinegar is roughly 5% acidic…so is lemon juice. If you are using something less acidic, such as orange juice, use more of it.
- Dried herbs will take some time to release their flavours into a dressing. If you have fresh herbs, add them to the salad, instead of the dressing. Dried herbs are fine, but the dressing won’t benefit from them until a few days soaking. You can shortcut this by simmering the herbs in the vinegar before making the dressing, but you will want to cool it down before adding to the salad.
- A salad dressing doubles as a killer marinade. NEVER forget that tip.
- Try an Asian flair…a dash of soy, a splash of sesame oil, and a blob of honey (maybe some Chinese 5 spice or fish sauce too).
- Most of all, have fun and play around with flavours…but never forget the basics. 1 Part Vinegar, 3 Parts Oil.