Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

Salad Dressing Recipe
Red Wine Vinaigrette Using the Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

So, salad dressing. It’s one of those things that I can’t buy any more, my corn allergy pretty much blew any hope of being able to find a commercial product to buy out of the water. I don’t really use recipes any more, I tend to throw things in a blender and have at it, but you might want a slightly more careful approach at the beginning, but I’m pretty sure you’ll end up throwing stuff in a blender too after I explain this.

Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

The parts to a dressing recipe are the base, the acid, the emulsifier (sometimes), and your spices/flavors. Now, the conventional wisdom is that the ratio is 3 parts base to 1 part acid, and then add your emulsifier and flavors to taste. However, I think you should mix the ratio so that you like it. I tend to almost flip the proportions of base and acid, but feel free to fiddle those proportions as you wish. Also, this is not a table to be read from left to right across a row, as it’s not in any particular order. Also, I tend not to just pick one emulsifier or spice/flavors or I might even skip the emulsifier altogether when I do a dressing, and I may even put a combo of two of the acids.

Base Acid Emulsifier Spices/Flavor
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Red Wine Vinegar ground dry mustard soy sauce (if you don’t have a soy allergy, and if you have a wheat or corn allergy you can try San-J Organic Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce or use Mary Kate’s Soy-free, gluten-free “Tamari Sauce”)
Grapeseed Oil Fruit Infused Vinegar prepared mustard minced garlic or garlic powder
sesame oil (if you don’t have a sesame allergy) Rice Wine Vinegar honey (if you have a safe one) fresh micro-grated ginger or ginger powder
Safe for you vegan yogurt Balsamic Vinegar maple syrup Sriracha or other hot sauces
safe for you vegan mayo Apple Cider Vinegar a quarter of a preserved lemon fresh herbs – any of dill, parsley, cilantro, mint, scallions
silken tofu (if no soy allergy and if you can find one without corn in it) Lemon Juice jam or fruit preserve minced onion or shallots
an avocado Lime Juice tahini (if you don’t have a sesame allergy) dried herbs – any of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil,
chopped tomatoes Orange Juice tomato paste dried chili powders – chipotle, ancho, jalapeno
raw cashews soaked and blended into cream (if you don’t have a nut allergy) Pickle Juice – left over from my homemade fermented dill pickles or my home canned pickles ground black pepper or peppercorns
sugar to sweeten

For example, if I wanted to make a red wine vinaigrette, I’d use extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice, some of my home made Dijon mustard, some garlic, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, ground black pepper, salt and a bit of sugar, and blend it.  If I wanted to make a Mexican spiced tomato vinaigrette, I’d use some chopped tomatoes and some extra virgin olive oil, some lime juice, maybe a bit of honey if I had a safe one, and some garlic, hot sauce, cilantro, oregano, basil, chipotle, black pepper, and salt, and blend it.  I could also do an avocado ranch (I don’t have any safe yogurt, mayo or tofu to use as a base instead, although I could use cashews blended into a cream) using an avocado, some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, and some garlic powder, onion powder, dill, salt, basil and red bell pepper flakes. Note that this combo didn’t use an emulsifier because the avocado has enough body on its own. You could also do an Asian themed dressing with some grapeseed oil, rice wine vinegar, minced scallions, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and Sriracha. See what kind of craziness you could come up with?

Now, I know what you’re saying – “Denise, Denise, how will we know if we got the proportions right? You’re not giving us enough information.” Yep. Because some of this stuff is trial and error. And the answer is you should taste it, and see how it is. If you like it, you got it right. If it needs something, fiddle with it. But, to give you a guideline, if the combination of your base and acid equals about 3 cups or so (because the ratio of the base and acid is up to you), I’d add a tablespoon or two of the emulsifier, and I’d add the spices/flavors to taste. Start with about a teaspoon of your combined spices/flavors and see if you like it, or if you need to add more.

But for those of you who want a conventional recipe, I’ll make an easy Red Wine Vinaigrette for you. But since you’re making it, if you don’t like something, leave it out. Also, I added a bit of paprika and crushed red pepper, because I’m Denise. God forbid that I don’t have some form of chili in a recipe, but I’ve marked them optional for you. Also, note that my proportions of base and acid are the way that I like dressing, so if you like a dressing with less acid (I like my dressing screaming) use 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil and 1 cup of red wine vinegar. (Yes, that’s still not 3 to 1, but if you need to it be 3 base to 1 acid, do the math).

Red Wine Vinaigrette, based on the Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

  • 2 cups of red wine vinegar (I make my own, but make sure that you have a safe source)
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I do well with California Olive Ranch)
  • 1 Tablespoon of prepared mustard (I use my homemade Dijon, make sure you get one that’s safe for you)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used a 1/4 teaspoon each)
  • optional: 1/8 teaspoon of paprika
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

Put it all in the blender.

Salad Dressing Recipe
Red Wine Vinaigrette Using the Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

Blend it. I start on low for a minute and then move it up to high, blending for at least a minute or two to make sure the oil incorporates with your emulsifier and base.

Salad Dressing Recipe
Red Wine Vinaigrette Using the Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

I then use a funnel and put it in an old wine bottle or vinegar bottle I’ve saved. You should store it in the refrigerator.  Because California Olive Ranch is really good olive oil, it will solidify a bit in the refrigerator, so shake well, and let it sit on your salad a bit to warm up before eating.

This makes a good bit of salad dressing. Usually, I put it in two bottles and take half to work to leave in the refrigerator there (your salad doesn’t get all wilted and gross if you don’t dress it before you leave for work) and leave some at home. I could make it as needed, but with food allergies, we all have enough stuff to do and making an amount in volume saves time.

Salad Dressing Recipe
Red Wine Vinaigrette Using the Salad Dressing Recipe Theory

What are your favorite flavors and combinations? If you try out our “theory” let us know about combinations you come up with that you particularly enjoy. We’d love to see what inspired ideas you come up with!

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