DIY Salad Dressing: vinaigrette basics and miso dressing!

DIY Salad Dressing: vinaigrette basics and miso dressing!

DIY Salad Dressing: vinaigrette basics and miso dressing!

I love a big salad on these hot summer days! And when it’s not the blazing summer, nothing pairs better with a rich main dish than a perfectly balanced side salad. I’m going to teach you all the basics so you can impress yourself, your family and your friends at your next meal!

Before I became a Naturopathic Doctor, I was trained in nutrition and culinary arts. I LOVE to cook and eat delicious food. Enjoy this tutorial to create your own gourmet salads at home.

The four basic elements of a dressing are salty, sweet, acidic, and fat. The oil to other liquid ratio should be about three to one, that’s three parts oil and one part vinegar or citrus juice.  You can add other spices and change out the oils and acid. For the acid you might use lemon juice or red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, etc. For the oil you might use olive oil, safflower oil, flax oil, walnut oil, avocado oil. For the oil portion it’s really important to make sure your oil isn’t rancid, meaning gone bad. This happens when the oil oxidizes, and we don’t want to eat that. Rancid oil has a very specific smell and once you get that smell down you’ll never forget it. Ahh, if only we had smell over the computer!

Health Benefits

Lettuce is bitter, depending on the variety some are more bitter than others. Having bitters with a meal turns on our digestive fire. Bitter taste in our mouth stimulates our vagus nerve which turns on production of digestive juices and increases peristalsis (the movement of the GI). Why does this matter? Many Americans are constipated. Increasing peristalsis helps prevent that. It's a good habit to eat something bitter or take a bitter tonic with a meal.

Emulsion

Back to the dressing. Oil and water (which vinegar acts like) don’t mix well! This is the very cool thing about making dressing. You’re mixing these 2 things that really never go together naturally and turning them into a delicious combination. This is where the emulsifier comes in. Emulsifiers help to hold the fat and water-based molecules together. My three favorites are mustard, miso, and honey.

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe

Here’s our basic DIY salad dressing recipe!

  • 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon mustard or honey, or both
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional things: minced shallot, garlic, or onion go nicely in a basic dressing

Miso Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon, lime or orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon miso (I like the mellow or white for this dressing, but use what you have)
  • Additional things: minced shallot, garlic, or onion go nicely in this dressing

For both recipes: Chop the shallot, garlic, or onion if using and place in a bowl large enough for you to really get into whiskin’ that dressing. Into that bowl add your emulsifier and whisk together. Now add the vinegar and whisk until well combined. Here comes the critical moment of alchemy!  Mixing oil and water! While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil. You’ll notice the mixture getting thinner and then it reaches a critical mass when it begins to thicken up. Continue to add until the oil isn’t going in as well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dress your greens of choice and store the rest in the fridge. Now you never have to buy store dressing again!!! You’re welcome.

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