Recipes for Salad Dressing

Salad dressings are a thing of beauty and elevate a humble leaf or cold-cut of meat into something quite extraordinary and when made at home with simple fresh ingredients, far outshine those bought from the store.  Dressings needn’t be fattening to be tasty and only a small amount is needed to pull a dish together.  Most of the recipes included here are a simple case of adding all the ingredients into a jar, giving it a good shake to emulsify and it’s done.  Seasoning with salt and pepper is left to the cooks discretion. 

A rule of thumb when combining oils and acids in the form of vinegar or citrus is to stick to 3 parts oil to 1 part acid.  This provides a decent balance between the two.  Obviously, the proof is in the tasting and all dressings should be tasted before being applied to the finished dish.  Adjust the oil and / or acid accordingly to suit the nature of the dish.

When dressing the dish, there are a couple of options.  In the case of a bowl of salad leaves, pour the dressing over and using the tips of your fingers, delicately toss everything about in the bowl to ensure an even coverage.  When dressing an already plated dish, a random drizzle around the plate always looks attractive.  Remember, we eat with our eyes before the first morsal hits our mouth.


A basic dressing suitable for most dishes but works particularly well with a salad of baby leaves.

6tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine everything in a jar and shake.


This dressing is great when paired with a curry as a side dip.  It is also lovely drizzled over a grilled chicken salad.  Vary it by adding finely chopped spring onions and/or cucumber to make into a more authentic raita.

1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
250 ml fresh yogurt
Salt and Pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Combine everything in a bowl.
2. Check the seasoning and make sure it has a nice balance of sweet and sour.


A classic accompaniment to a grilled chicken and bacon salad but would also work with gammon.

2 tbsp honey
1 tsp mustard (any type you like)
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Combine everything in a jar and shake.
2. Season to taste

Just remember to taste to make sure there is a nice combination of flavours. Add a bit more of whatever you need to give you the flavour you are looking for.  For a variation, substitute the honey for a few tablespoons of pineapple juice.


A fresh-tasting dressing with plenty of zing.  Works wonderfully drizzled over cold smoked salmon.

Juice and zest of one lemon
100ml Creme Fraiche
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine everything in a jar and shake.
2. Season to taste.


A full-flavoured, versatile classic Italian dressing that works beautifully stirred into pasta or over grilled meats and fish.

Good handful of fresh basil
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1/2 clove of garlic
Parmesan cheese, grated using a fine grater.
1 lemon
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1. In a pestle and mortar, pound the basil, garlic and pine nuts until paste-like. Add a little oil to loosen.
2. Add the cheese and pound, adding more oil to loosen.
3. Add lemon juice and seasoning and more oil.

The trick to a good pesto is to keep tasting and adjusting the quantities of oil, lemon juice or seasoning until you have the texture and flavour to your liking.  It should be bursting with intense flavours.


Although called a sauce, this is a warm dressing with a subtle flavour that goes beautifully with simple grilled dish.

10 – 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
100 ml Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp of Basil, chopped
1 tsp of Parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

1. In a small pan, over a medium low heat, add the olive oil and heat until JUST warm.  You don’t want it hot.
2. Take off the heat and add the tomatoes and lemon juice, giving it a good stir.
3. Just before serving, add the chopped herbs, season to taste and stir to combine all the lovely ingredients.

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