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D.I.Y. Friday: Easy Homemade Salad Dressings

D.I.Y. Friday: Easy Homemade Salad Dressings

Easy Homemade Salad Dressings: Caesar, Ranch, Vinaigrette and Green Goddess

Happy D.I.Y. Friday! This is our occasional blog series in which we D.I.Y. a basic (sometimes naturally gluten free) recipe (like this, these homemade salad dressings) or other ingredient that you otherwise might be inclined to buy. Salad dressings make amazing marinades for chicken of every sort, and you can’t beat ’em for coaxing kids into eating vegetables of all kinds. Making my own salad dressings is something that I have done for years without ever buying a bottled dressing, and it’s not because I’m so diligent that I never ever take the easy way out. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s truly a matter of convenience. Let me explain!

Easy Homemade Salad Dressings: Vinaigrette ingredients

Bottled salad dressings go bad, but you can only buy them in the quantities in which they’re sold. Even a simple bottled vinaigrette will go bad over time, and then you have to have it rattling around in the door of your refrigerator, mocking you every time you open and close that door. And I’m sure you knew this already but I’ll never forget the feeling when I learned that a basic vinaigrette is based upon the simplest of simple ratios: Oil 3:Acid 1. So….you can throw together as much or as little vinaigrette as you like, at any time. And it doesn’t even need to be refrigerated. I almost always use white balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe’s as my acid since it’s mild (almost a tiny bit sweet), and I add salt and pepper plus a tiny bit of honey because I find it balances out the whole thing perfectly. Moving on…

Easy Homemade Salad Dressings: Ranch ingredients

I’ve always loved ranch dressing, but I often find myself chasing the perfect texture and taste. If you ask me, this recipe nails it. Ranch dressing should not be super thick. It’s slightly sweet, slightly acidic, with just the right kick from finely minced garlic. This one needs to be refrigerated, but it’s thin enough that it should be pourable right out of the refrigerator. And it’s easy enough to make that you can throw it together on a weeknight. Yes, you can! Don’t have buttermilk? Try plain yogurt. And the best way to mince garlic super fine is to chop it with your favorite chef’s knife, and periodically press it into a paste with the flat side of the knife. Wanna make it even easier? Try adding a tiny bit of kosher salt as you’re chopping and pressing.

Easy Homemade Salad Dressings: Caesar ingredients

Okay Caesar dressing really should have a raw egg yolk in it. But you can still make a very authentic-tasting Caesar salad without the egg, because really who has raw pasteurized egg yolk lying around? Not me (well at least not usually). Instead of anchovy paste, I use either fish sauce (which is mostly anchovies) or Worcestershire sauce (which has anchovies) because, well, I just don’t keep anchovy paste on hand since my family doesn’t love it in everything. Except they don’t even know they’re eating it in this dressing. Suckers.

Easy Homemade Salad Dressings: Green Goddess ingredients

Finally, green goddess dressing. My absolute personal favorite. You can  make it with flat-leaf parsley (curly-leaf parsley has practically no flavor!), or with basil. I really really prefer parsley here, since it doesn’t mask the rest of the flavors but just perks up the whole dressing and makes it taste super fresh. If you don’t have scallions on hand, leave them out but they do give some nice bite. And if you’re wondering why my scallions look kind of, well, icy, it’s because I store them in the freezer. Don’t you? ;)

Easy Homemade Salad Dressings: Vinaigrette, Green Goddess, Ranch and Caesar

So here you have them: the 4 most essential dressings. One you mix up just by shaking (vinaigrette), one just by whisking (ranch), and two by blending (Caesar and green goddess). All are exceedingly easy to make, and call for ingredients you have on hand already. Now finish up those bottles rattling around in your refrigerator door, and never buy dressing again.

One final thing: I’m kind of out of D.I.Y. Friday ideas. My site is getting a revamp (soon and it’s going to be responsive, too, and just you wait and see what it’s going to look like on your mobile!) and will have a recipe request form, but in the meantime please leave D.I.Y. Friday suggestions in the comments! The well is dry and I need your help!!

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 1 1/4 cups each

Ingredients

Vinaigrette Dressing
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white wine (or white balsamic) vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ranch Dressing
1/3 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup (75 g) sour cream

1 tablespoon white wine (or white balsamic) vinegar

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced very fine

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Caesar Dressing
3/4 cup (168 g) mayonnaise

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, chopped or grated

2 small cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon gluten free fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce (or anchovy paste)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Milk or buttermilk by the half-teaspoonful, if necessary

Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup (112 g) mayonnaise

1/2 cup (112 g) sour cream

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or basil, but I much prefer parsley)

1 teaspoon gluten free fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce (or anchovy paste)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped scallions (optional)

Milk or buttermilk by the half-teaspoonful, if necessary

Directions

  • For the vinaigrette dressing, place all of the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and shake vigorously to combine. The oil and vinegar will emulsify, but then separate over time. Simply shake again before using. The mixture can be stored in a cool, dark place, but if you refrigerate it the oil will thicken a bit and hold the emulsification better after shaking.

  • For the ranch dressing, place all of the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and whisk to combine well. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  • For the Caesar dressing, place all of the ingredients in a blender in the order listed, and blend until smooth. If necessary to keep the blender moving, add milk or buttermilk by the half-teaspoonful. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The dressing will thicken in the refrigerator, and then again when brought to room temperature.

  • For the green goddess dressing, place all of the ingredients in a blender in the order listed, and blend until smooth. If necessary to keep the blender moving, add milk or buttermilk by the half-teaspoonful. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The dressing will thicken in the refrigerator, and then again when brought to room temperature.

  • Variations and Substitutions: I haven’t tried these recipes with any substitutions except where alternative ingredients are listed, but the following substitutions are worth a try:

    • In place of sour cream, try plain Greek yogurt (or nondairy plain Greek yogurt).
    • In place of buttermilk, try plain traditional yogurt (or plain nondairy yogurt).
    • To make the vinaigrette into mustard vinaigrette, add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
    • Increase or decrease salt and pepper to taste.

Love,
Me

 

P.S. Have you ordered your copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread? If you like the blog, you’ll love the books!!

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  • Michelle

    What about gf gifts for holiday giving? Like cookie or other mixes in a jar? I’ll see if I can think of other ideas…

    • Michelle

      Although I guess that’s a different category and not technically DIY…

      • It’s in the same vein, Michelle. Good suggestion!

  • Lucy

    Nicole, you’re so awwwwesome!
    Now that we are non-GMO as well as Gluten-free, I need all the help I can get when it comes to sauces and salad dressings.
    Thank you so much :)

  • Jthrel

    Yum! I also make a honey mustard with stone ground mustard (no vinegar, or Apple cider vinegar) and agave syrup or honey. Add enough of each to taste mix well with spoon. Best honey mustard ever.

  • Brad G

    for another DIY Friday, how about “Bitchin Sauce” They sell it at Whole Foods, and it’s GREAT!!!!!!! There are 3 flavors, Original, Jalapeno Cilantro and Chipotle. It’s a bit pricey, but it is SO awesome. Great on grilled vegetables, or any vegetables for that matter. I use it as a dressing for cole slaw. That would be awesome!!

  • Laurita Petry-Dominick

    Maybe the sauce and dressing idea….I am brain dead in this dept….but I know if you have a couple of good sauces in your bag of tricks you can make the same ingredients taste like totally different dishes…I.e. stir fry sauce, barbeque sauce etc.

    • Lauren

      I totally agree with Laurita on the sauces! My husband loves saucy foods, but they often rely on cornstarch or wheat flour. Most of the time it’s too daunting to try to modify them since I haven’t even tasted them in almost a decade to give me an idea of what I’m aiming for.
      I’d love to have help with the following sauces:
      * Alfredo
      * Buffalo Chicken (like for a Crock Pot chicken meal)
      * Teriyaki
      * Sweet and Sour
      And I’m interested in any other savory sauces you might have up your sleeves.

      And totally unrelatedly, I’m currently craving coconut cream pie. :)

      • This is super helpful, Laurita and Lauren! I love the idea of a bunch of sauces like that: alfredo, sweet and sour, terikyaki. Great idea!! And coconut cream pie is on my blog to-make list, Lauren! I really can’t wait until the new site with the Recipe Request form is live!

  • Laurita Petry-Dominick

    By the way…Thank you for all your very hard work….you save us time and money and help make us successful which builds confidence and conviction and helps us help others over their bumps in going gluten free…just a thought

  • Lisa W

    I have been so disappointed in dressings at the store lately so this is very timely for me! YAY! Making some today. Thank you.

  • Mare Masterson

    How about DIY condiments (mayo, mustards, ketchup)?

  • Nancy

    I thought mayo was not gluten free?

    • Michelle

      Mayo is just eggs and oil- should always be naturally gf.

  • Danielle

    You should have a diy ice cream condiment(s)!

    • Like chocolate sauce, Danielle? Anything else? Interesting idea!

      • youngbaker2002

        how about caramel sauce?

  • Diane Decker

    I vote for the sauce idea. Sometimes I am too hungry, or in too much pain, to even think about cooking an entire meal for myself. I usually keep cooked brown rice and quinoa, sauteed vegetables and often some poached chicken meat on hand. What I need are sauces that I can make and keep in the refrigerator to change the flavor of my basic rice or quinoa bowls. I love San-J sauces, but can’t afford them. I’d also like something besides Asian sauces. This would make me very happy.

    • So true, Diane. I think the sauce idea definitely has legs! Thanks!

  • familychef

    DIY instant oatmeal packets?

    • In my next cookbook, familychef! ;)

      • youngbaker2002

        that would be great! good idea familychef.

  • Jennifer S.

    Sauces would be great, also freezer meals, school lunches too.

  • Alisa

    school lunches would be great!

  • Grannyallen

    Try this egg free mayonaise
    3tablespoons Soya Milk .
    1/2 tsp salt .
    1/2 tsp of mustard powder.
    300 m&s of vegitable oil or light olive oil.
    I desert spoon of cider vinegar.
    Put in a jug and blend with a stick blender.
    It’s very good.

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