The worldwide market for commercial salad dressing stood at $17.6 billion in 2021 is expected to reach $23.8 billion in 2027. A large part of that market comprises gallon jugs of balsamic vinaigrette, creamy Italian, light and heavy mayonnaise, and classic and chipotle Ranch sold to restaurants across the globe. So it’s hard to extrapolate from those numbers how many bottles of the stuff an average American consumes at home.
Last summer, though, market research firm Statistica took consumer survey results from an MRI-Simmons report and matched them up with US Census data, to give clients a best guess. The firm reckons 192 million Americans (about 58 percent of the US population) consume between one and four bottles of salad dressing a month.
That’s a lot of plastic, people.
For the love of our oceans, where plastics pollution is deadly to wildlife, and as we embark on prime salad season here in Maine, when we’ll be foraging for dandelions and fiddleheads, clamoring for garden lettuce, and grilling farmers market veggies to fill our bellies with healthy, bounteous food, can we please take a moment to make our own salad dressings?
I share with you here my own, hoping to make making salad dressing at home stylish again. It’s my version of a not-too-shabby CHIC array of DIY dressings to keep in your fridge, at the ready to dress up any salad you decide to put on your plate.
The first “C” stands for a creamy Greek dressing. This one, made from local yogurt and garlic and thinned with olive oil and lemon juice from away, is as comfortable adorning a roasted carrot, ramp and spring onion side dish as it is accessorizing a cocktail party crudité.
“H” is for hot and spicy. This one is an Asian-inspired concoction that holds in the fridge for well over a week. In a glass container with a tight-fitting lid, combine ¼ cup lime juice, ¼ cup vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 teaspoon each of grated fresh ginger, sriracha, sambal oelek (chili paste), fish sauce and soy sauce . This dressing can spice up that cabbage and kohlrabi slaw you’re bringing to the Fourth of July picnic, be used as a marinade for beef or chicken, and serve as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetable-packed spring rolls.
“I” represents my salty Italian dressing. This is my go-to salad dressing when I want to prove to someone that they do, in fact, like anchovies. I’ve adapted it from a recipe in Catherine Walthers’ “Raising the Salad Bar” cookbook. I whisk together 6 minced anchovy fillets (or 2 teaspoons of paste), the zest and juice of a lemon, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon each of very finely minced garlic and Dijon mustard. I use it to lightly dress any green salad, adding an egg yolk and Parmesan cheese if I’m making a Caesar salad.
And the final C is for the classic French vinaigrette I always have on hand when my daughter is home, or I bring to her when I visit New York. For this one, you let 2 tablespoons minced shallots mellow for 20 minutes in a mixture of 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a half teaspoon each of kosher salt and honey, and a couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper . The you slowly whisk in 1/2 cup vegetable oil until the mixture emulsifies. This one is as classic on summertime salads as a chic little black dress is for any party.
Local foods advocate Christine Burns Rudalevige is the editor of Edible Maine magazine and author of “Green Plate Special,” both a column about eating sustainably in the Portland Press Herald and the name of her 2017 cookbook. She can be contacted at: [email protected]
CREAMY GREEK-STYLE SALAD DRESSING
Makes 1 cup
½ cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Affix the lid and shake vigorously until everything is well combined. Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For Mother’s Day, wisdom from Nonna