Now that summer is here, it’s really tempting to serve up a salad once or twice a day. Of course, this could become a little boring if you’re not careful, but one way of avoiding that is by using a variety of dressings and there are plenty to choose from. Why not try these six for a start?
Slow-roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
For a tangy dressing that goes well with anything from a crisp leafy salad to a bean and pasta dish, try this easy to prepare recipe.
- 350g ripe tomatoes
- 30ml red wine vinegar
- 15ml olive oil
- 25g finely chopped garlic
- 25g finely chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 2 and grease a 20cm square baking dish.
- Halve and core the tomatoes.
- Toss all ingredients apart from the vinegar in a bowl before spreading evenly in the dish.
- Bake for 90 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down completely.
- Place tomato mixture and vinegar in a blender and liquefy.
To serve, toss a leafy salad in the dressing or use it as a garnish on the edge of each plate.
Spinach and Avocado Dressing
For a fresh and subtle taste of summer, try this versatile and very easy dressing that converts to a thick and tasty dip with just a slight tweak to the amount of liquid you add to it.
- 1 whole avocado, cubed
- 250g baby spinach leaves
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- 25g finely chopped fresh thyme
- 100ml fat-free natural yoghurt
- 60ml white wine vinegar (30ml if you want to use it as a thick dip)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients, apart from salt and pepper, in a blender.
- Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
To serve, drizzle over salad or serve in a bowl with cruditès on the side.
Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette
If you want something a little more exotic, this spicy combination has an Asian feel and puts a zing in even the most bland leaf-based salad. It also goes well with chickpeas or as a marinade for chicken or tofu.
- 60ml fresh orange or lemon juice (or a mixture of both)
- 15ml honey
- Zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon
- 5ml grated ginger
- 5ml curry powder
- 5ml white wine vinegar
- 125ml nut oil (almond, macadamia, walnut, etc)
- Salt to taste
- Toast the curry powder in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, stirring continuously.
- Combine the honey, juice, zest, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl before adding the toasted curry powder and oil.
- Stir thoroughly and season with salt.
(Leave refrigerated overnight for a stronger flavour.)
Use as a drizzle or toss a salad in the vinaigrette.
This easily adapted vinaigrette has a classic flavour and looks great as a focal point on the dinner table. Although certain herbs are suggested in this recipe, you can add your favourites instead, or use whatever you have growing in the garden.
- 225ml light oil (sesame, safflower, extra-virgin olive oil etc)
- 30ml honey
- 125ml white wine vinegar
- 50g roughly chopped basil
- 50g roughly chopped oregano
- 50g finely chopped chives
- 2g coarse sea salt
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine honey, vinegar and salt until well mixed.
- Whisk in your chosen oil before adding the herbs and chives.
- Leave in a fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight, to allow flavours to infuse.
Serve with thick toast, as a dip or drizzle over a salad.
Garlic and Chilli Dressing
Everybody should learn at least one good garlic-based dressing and then avoid using it before important meetings or before a first date. This healthy hot and garlicky mix fits the bill.
- 6 medium-sized cloves of garlic
- 2 large finely chopped chillies (Or smaller, hotter chillies if preferred.)
- 30ml water
- 45ml red wine vinegar
- 30ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2g salt
- Crush the garlic, chillies and salt, using a pestle and mortar, until completely ground to a paste.
- In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly whisk all ingredients, including the garlic and chilli paste, until the mixture is light and frothy.
This is perfect as an addition to a leafy salad, pasta or drizzled over barbecued vegetables, fish or meat.
Lime and Shallot Vinaigrette
- 5 or 6 medium-sized finely chopped shallots
- 450ml lime juice
- 30ml olive oil (Plus a little extra for frying)
- 30ml finely chopped fresh parsley
- 10ml honey (Essential to take the edge off the lime juice’ sharpness.)
- 2g freshly ground black pepper
- In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and brown the shallots, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the lime juice and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering the mixture until thick.
- Set the pan aside until the reduction has cooled.
- Put the lime juice and shallot mixture, the parsley, pepper and honey into a blender.
- As the ingredients are blending, gradually add the remainder of the oil and continue until the mixture is smooth.
- Pass through a sieve to be certain of a fine consistency.
Delicious when drizzled over leaves, diced strong cheese and olives.
Vinaigrette dressings can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, while those that contain yoghurt should be used within three to four days, so you can plan ahead for barbecues. One of the best things about a salad dressing is that, if you make it yourself, it’s very easy to add more of your favourite ingredients so the result will be perfect for you. With a low-fat dressing, you can raise any salad to new heights without compromising your waistline.