The Art of Dressing

Posted by Alayne Gardner-Carimi on

Many of us think salad dressing as a thing, a noun. However, the art of salad dressing is also a verb: it’s a process. There is a whole world of dressings, from the pour of pure olive oil and a drizzle of vinegar with no whisking or measuring involved  to the most complex, the blended kinds with multiple ingredients. There’s a place for all of these in the world of salad. However, the one most often used, the most depended upon, is the mother of all dressings, the vinaigrette.

To properly dress a salad, only three ingredients are needed: an acid (like vinegar – traditional, balsamic, or fruit  or lemon juice), the “right” amount of salt (not too much, not too little) and a healthy, pure oil, like vomFASS Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grape Seed oil or Sun Meadow rapeseed oil. Use good vinegar and good oil. How do you know if the vinegar or oil is “good”? Taste it alone before you make the dressing. Then you will know what you like and don’t like. And therein lies the beauty of shopping at vomFASS Madison.

Fresh vinaigrettes are so easy to create and contain no artificial ingredients. You can make an array of flavors to enjoy  a different one every day of the week. vomFASS-Madison prepares our oil and vinegar sets to encourage you to play with flavors in your own kitchen.

The Naked Truth

To make a great salad you can select from a variety of baby greens, each with a distinctive taste and mouthfeel. Get to know some leaves. Taste them. You’ll find crunchy, sweet, spicy, tangy, sour, bitter, mineral-y, mustardy, peppery, salty, succulent, pungent, floral, bittersweet, earthy, savory, and juicy flavors and textures. You can also accent with a sprinkling of fresh herbs — like dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, basil, or green onions — for your salad. The standard serving size of greens is about two ounces per person. 

Say No to Naked Salads

The role of salad dressing is to enhance the lively flavors of greens. Dressing makes a salad come alive. Dressing gives a salad character and better texture. And believe it or not, improves the nutritional availability of the salad. 

Salads are known to be healthy for you. They contain fiber, phytonutrients, enzymes and can be a good source for vitamins A, D, and K. These vitamins are fat soluble. Research has shown that these vitamins are better absorbed in conjunction with monounsaturated dietary fats, like those found in extra virgin olive oils, and cold-pressed nut and seed oils used in dressing a salad!

6 Steps for Salad Success

Washed greens should be dry so the vinaigrette will cling lovingly to the leaves. You can spin the greens or softly dry with a clean kitchen towel. Vinaigrettes will not stick to wet leaves.
The salad should be dressed just before serving. This allows the salad to be crisp and the vinaigrette most evenly dispersed. 
Toss gently so leaves are not bruised.
If you have add-ins (nuts, dried fruit, croutons, cheese) for your salad, dress the salad first then layer the add-ins and heavier veggies (tomato, cucumber, radish...) so the goodies are evenly dispersed while serving and don’t end up in the bottom of the serving bowl.
The traditional vinaigrette is 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon juice), to 2-3 parts oil, an emulsifier (like mustard, honey, or egg yolk), a pinch of salt. Salt creates a fusion to the flavors of the oil and vinegar. Not only does this ratio taste great, it also makes for the most stable emulsions. The ingredients can be shaken, whisked, or blended to create homogeneous suspension flavors. You can form a stronger emulsion by using a blender or emulsion blender, but truthfully it only needs to hold together until you can eat your salad!
Of course, these three ingredients are only the beginning. Other herbs, spices, and condiments can be added to change the flavor and texture of your freshly made dressings according to your personal preferences and make up of the salad.

Making Mayo

Want a creamy salad dressing? Substitute 2/3 of the oil in your vinaigrette with some fresh mayonnaise. Good news, it’s easier to make up a fresh cup of mayo than you may realize. See the Mason Jar Mayo recipe below. 

Mother of All Dressings

Mason Jar Mayo


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