"salad dressing" news and stories
Our team of food editors poured, dipped and spooned through 94 bottles and pouches in search of the most refreshing, zesty and creamy brands of store-bought salad dressing. In the end, they selected several runners-up and a winner and loser in each of six flavors: Ranch, French, Italian, Caesar, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette. Read on for results and see the surprising brands they found to be the winners.
Filed under: Taste Test
In the world of leafy green salads and crisp vegetables, few things are as satisfying -- and simple -- as the one-two punch of oil and vinegar. But once you start adding extra flavors and emulsifying, it's just as easy to make a creamy dressing that's a perfect accompaniment to the fresh flavors of spring. It's even easier, in fact, because there is no tried and true ingredients ratio for the perfect dressing -- it's all a matter of preference and desire, be it for something thick and creamy, milky, or somewhere in between.
The nutty tang of crème fraîche forms the foundation of this dressing, though sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise or even tofu can be used instead. We find that mixing one part mayonnaise with two parts crème fraîche achieves a crisp and pronounced balance of flavors.
A good salad dressing is one that doesn't separate. When making salad dressing, some of us shake, some of us whisk, and no few of us cruet. All of these methods, though tried and true, work on some dressings, but at your local kitchen store you can get a gadget that works on all of them: the Bonjour Salad Chef. The Salad Chef is a hand-held blender consisting of a power unit with a touch button on the top, from which emerges a long stem with a set of high-impact plastic blades on the business end, which when engaged spin at extra-high speed to emulsify salad dressing.
Emuslification is a science-fair-sounding word that refers to the suspension of acid in oil. Creating it is a matter of technique: the oil and acid which you mixed in a ratio (approximately two-thirds oil to one-third acid) combine with flavorful ingredients to incorporate into a sauce which maintains its consistency. The only way to create emulsification is effort. For vinaigrettes, whisking is usually sufficient. For a heavy dressing, some shake ingredients together in a lidded jar -- adherents swear that this is the only way to make a creamy dressing such as blue cheese.
I promise I am not typing this from the copy on the box, but the Bonjour Salad Chef does its job perfectly. I have tried it on every kind of dressing I make: lemony washes for arugula, vinaigrettes from shallot to balsamic to pear, hearty olivata for Greek salad, burly Worchestershire dressing for Cobb salad, even red-wine dressing for beef salad. The Chef works best when the ingredients are placed in the bottom of a mid-sized bowl, and the Chef is lowered into them, whisking from the center outwards. Salad dressing should be fresh, but a dijon vinaigrette I made for this column held together six hours (refrigerated) before starting to separate.