Classic Salad Dressings
If ever there is an award for Most Underappreciated Kitchen Staple, I fully intend to nominate vinegar. And my love of vinegar has only increased over the years, using it in everything from marinades for grilled veggies, salad dressings and cleaning products. As it turns out, I was actually underutilizing this culinary powerhouse myself, simply because I didn’t know just how amazing it can be.
Enter herb infused vinegars, which are so simple to make that there really isn’t a reason not to. For years i’ve been using vegan* red wine vinegar, olive oil, with rosemary and garlic as my go-to grilling marinade for eggplant, zucchini and summer squash. This combination has served me well for years, but then I infused my vinegar with the rosemary and garlic for the first time, and I will never go back to not using herb infused vinegars again. The depth of flavor and earthiness you get from the herbs is so much more pronounced once they’ve infused with the vinegar. It’s really a night and day comparison. The flavors are so much richer, fuller and brighter.
The process of making herb infused vinegar is incredibly simple, and the guide below handles pretty much everything you need to know. Below the guide I’ll list some of my favorite combinations, but I highly encourage everyone to try out their favorite herbs.
*Just a note: as many of you likely know, not all vinegar is vegan. Some vinegars, like Balsamic vinegar and malt vinegars, are refined and filtered using whey or isinglass, both of which are made from animals or animal products. It’s always worth digging into the specific brand you like using to make sure it is a vegan vinegar.
Preston’s Favorite Herb Infused Vinegar Combinations
- Apple cider vinegar, rosemary and thyme
- Red wine vinegar, pear rind and rosemary
- White vinegar, lemon peel and thyme (My go-to for cleaning)
- White vinegar, sage and mint
Ranch dressing is challenging to find ready-made in a dairy-free vegan version, so this simple and versatile recipe comes to the rescue. As a dip, this is great with raw veggies; as a dressing, use on green salads, slaws, pasta salads, and potato salads. This makes about a cup of dressing or dip. Photos by Evan Atlas. more→
This creamy dressing, made with omega-rich hemp seeds and fragrant cilantro and mint, is an excellent choice for green salads, steamed vegetables, and pasta salads. Recipe contributed by Leslie Cerier. Photo by Tracey Eller. more→
This homemade vegan French dressing is one of my personal favorites for green salads—I hope you’ll agree that this is better than the store-bought variety. It sure is more economical, and is made with ingredients you may already have on hand. more→
Filled with vitamin-rich parsley, this herbal salad dressing is good on green salads as well as on steamed vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, and squashes. Many markets sell overly large bunches of herbs like parsley; they’re perishability makes it hard to use them up before they start losing their freshness. This dressing, which can be made oil-free if you prefer, is a great solution. Photos by Evan Atlas. more→
This salad dressing featuring olive oil, tahini, apple cider vinegar, and lemon, makes even the simplest salad shine. Excellent on green salads, slaws, and more. I highly recommend this with Hearty Seitan Salad. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. more→
Savory and tangy, this sesame-ginger dressing is perfect for salads served with Asian-style meals. It’s also good on wilted greens and on cold noodle dishes. Thanks to Progressive International for providing the salad dressing shaker shown in these photos by Evan Atlas. more→
This is the first dressing that enticed my kids to try salad when they were young. It’s a good bet for young children, though it’s a pleaser for any age. It also makes a good dressing for veggie burgers and other sandwiches. more→
Here’s a basic, all-purpose olive oil vinaigrette dressing for salads, slaws, and marinating. Increase the proportion of vinegar if your prefer a more pungent taste. more→
Keep it as is for slathering on sandwiches and burgers, or thin it out with a little water for a creamy salad dressing. Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude* ©2012 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library. more→
Use this dressing if you are serving a salad with a Mexican meal. Alternatively, use it to marinate cucumber, cabbage, or tomatoes. Recipe by Devra Gartenstein, from Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes*, by permission of The Book Publishing Company. more→