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Larb Gai

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Salad dressing snob

I don’t like the taste of store-bought salad dressings and never have. With the amount of salad I consume, this dislike could have been problematic had my Mother not taught me how to make French vinaigrette. I’ve been experimenting with a number of tasty variations to complement any meal. The basic ingredients are very similar so to save time, I made five different dressings in about 10 minutes last week: Balsamic-basil, Tarragon-Dijon, Lemon-Dijon, Asian-ginger, and Mexican honey-lime.

Animated steps to making salad dressing

I often use these dressings as marinades on beef or chicken. The balsamic-basil dressing is essentially the sauce for the Balsamic-basil chicken with red pepper recipe I posted previously.


5 clean jam jars (8-12 oz)

Olive oil

Canola oil (optional)

Balsamic vinegar

Tarragon vinegar

Rice wine vinegar

Lemon juice

Lime juice

Dijon mustard

Gourmet Garden ginger

Gourmet Garden basil

Cumin (ground)

Coriander (ground)

Honey and/or sugar



For all of these dressings/vinaigrettes, leave about an inch of space at the top of every jar so you can shake the ingredients together really well.

Balsamic-basil dressing:Add equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil then about 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp of basil puree, 1 tsp of ground pepper, and ½ tsp of salt. Shake everything together and taste. If it’s too acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar or honey. You can also add more mustard if the dressing starts to separate – or pepper, salt and basil if it’s too bland.

Tarragon-Dijon:Add equal parts tarragon vinegar and olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp of pepper, 1 tsp of sugar and ½ tsp of salt. I love a spoonful of this dressing in half an avocado.

Lemon-Dijon:Add equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp of pepper, 1 tsp of sugar and ½ tsp of salt.

Asian-ginger:Add equal parts rice wine vinegar and oil (canola if you have it, olive if you don’t), 2 tbsp of mustard, 1-2 tbsp of minced ginger (try just one first), pepper and salt. If you like garlic, you could add a teaspoon of that too.

Mexican honey-lime:Add equal parts lime juice and olive oil, 1 tbsp of honey, 2 tbsp of mustard, ½ tsp of cumin, ½ tsp of coriander, pepper and salt. Increase the honey, cumin and coriander if it’s not sweet or spicy enough but keep the cumin and coriander in proportion.

Dressings improve as the ingredients mature so if you aren’t sure about the flavors, wait a day and try them again. You might also want to label them as all but the balsamic-basil look similar. Finally, you'll have to keep them in the fridge due to all of the fresh ingredients. The oil will congeal but you can run the jars under hot tap water or place them in the microwave when you need to use them.

Comments: 2 | Reply

Foodie 08/28/10 1:57 pm | Reply | 0 Agree | Abusive

I agree that nothing compares to homemade salad dressings.

I make an Asian-ginger dressing recipe which is very similar, but I add juice from a fresh ginger root (yes, make sure it's fresh, as otherwise it's like trying to get water from a stone) and add a small proportion of sesame oil and a splash of mongolian fire oil. Delicious.

Your tarragon dressing sounds like it would be great over fresh poached salmon.

Samantha Edwards 08/28/10 6:10 pm | Reply | 0 Agree | Abusive

Your Asian-ginger dressing sounds tasty. I think I have a bottle of ginger juice in the fridge -- and some chili oil -- so it should be easy to try out.

Re. the tarragon dressing, it would probably liven up an meaty fish. Thanks!

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