Salad dressings really make a huge difference to a salad and are that simple extra touch that makes a yummy meal from a few simple ingredients. Have some fun with making them and trying different flavours. The great thing about a fabulous dressing is that you can go really simple with the food your dressing-- try stemming some asparagus and adding a yummy dressing et voila- a yummy lunch or tea!
Dressings are all about sweet and sour, or agrodolce as the Italians call it. Learn the ratio of sweet to sour that you like best – most oils are slightly sweet in flavour.
• Which oil you use matters. Olive oils cover a spectrum of flavours from the peppery early- season oils (which sometimes have an almost acrid aftertaste) to the softer late-season ones. Taste your olive oil. If it is too powerful for your palate, dilute it with rapeseed or sunflower oil. Also, be aware that oils can go stale if left in the heat (eg by the stove) or in sunlight.
• Make more than you need. You can keep it in the fridge in a jar for ages.
• Season carefully. Taste for salt, pepper, sweet and sour. Before you dress the salad (the point of no return) dip a leaf into the dressing, taste and adjust the flavours if
• If you are using raw garlic in a dressing, it is best to smash it to a paste with a little salt – this breaks it down more than a garlic crusher can. The flavour will spread more evenly through the mix, and you won't get little lumps floating in your dressing.
A bunch of basil
1 garlic clove, crushed
100ml olive oil
A pinch of salt and black pepper
Remove the leaves from the basil and blend with the rest of the ingredients.
Add pine nuts and parmesan for a simple pesto. This is truly delicious with spiralised courgette or pasta.
Best for drizzling over fresh tomatoes, grilled courgettes or a tomato salad.