Cooking with Joy

Cooking with Joy: Simple, tasty homemade salad dressings

CorrespondentJune 17, 2014 

I was a “Johnny Come Lately,” my grandmother talking here, to the homemade salad dressing world. The closest I used to be to making my own dressing was to whip up a batch of prepackaged ingredients with some oil, vinegar and water in a cruet that came with it.

I felt very creative doing this.

It wasn’t until I went to a dinner party at the home of a friend that I saw actual salad dressing being made from scratch. The hostess stepped into the kitchen and nonchalantly whisked some red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together. She tossed a nice green salad with it, added some grated cheese and croutons, and brought it to the table.

I was struck by the ease with which this simple salad was made and how good it was. Easy and good – now that’s my kind of recipe.

From that moment on, I’ve been a salad dressing nut. There are as many variations as there are ingredients. I’ve learned that if something doesn’t taste the way you like it, just keep adding ingredients until it does. If it’s too tart, add some honey. If it’s too sweet, add something acidic like vinegar or citrus juice. Not enough flavor? Salt and pepper is your answer.

If you still hate what you’ve made, I have two words for you – prepackaged dressings. Mix it, shake it and serve it in a glass cruet.

If you’ve never made your own dressing, now’s your chance. I’m going to share a few of my favorites with you, so get a whisk and a bowl, and let’s get started. Your naked salad is waiting to get dressed.

Joy Smith is a resident of Fort Mill. Contact her at

Citrus Vinaigrette

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice*

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper

Blend ingredients until combined. Taste for flavor. Add more lemon juice, honey, salt or pepper until it’s perfect for you.

*Use lime juice or orange juice for a deliciously different citrus vinaigrette.

*If you are making orange vinaigrette, substitute orange marmalade for the honey and substitute orange vinegar for the white wine vinegar. Top the salad with mandarin orange slices for extra flavor.

Sesame Soy Dressing

1/2 cup sesame oil

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper

Put the first five ingredients in a blender. Blend until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill. It’s particularly good with a chopped salad of romaine lettuce, red cabbage and shredded carrots. Top with crunchy soy nuts or peanuts.

Miso Dressing

2 tablespoons miso

4 tablespoons honey

Juice of two lemons

Whisk the ingredients together and chill. Serve over a simple green salad. This goes well with chicken teriyaki, pork tonkatsu or any other Japanese dish.

Greek Salad Dressing*

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine ingredients and whisk together until well blended. Serve over a salad of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives and thinly sliced red onion. Top with feta cheese.

*Make this dressing at least 2 hours before you serve it. Keep it at room temperature. The ingredients will blend together, and the flavor will improve. The longer it sets, the better it gets.

Honey Mustard Dressing

¼ cup honey

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt and pepper

Whisk honey, mustard, vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice together until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. It’s so delicious it tastes good on anything.

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