When I mention this to friends, they tend to nod their heads in agreement when it comes to anything baked. But salad dressings? For most, dressings seem to lend themselves naturally to experimentation and iteration. Not for me. I follow my recipes and that’s that.
Truth be told, I have simply made too many bad dressings over the years. Too much time and food wasted. Usually, it was the ratio between the different ingredients – too oily or too acidic. But the quality of the ingredients was also a contributing factor. Bad ingredients make for a bad dressing. A clear statement of the obvious but somehow that was lost on me for a VERY long time.
The biggest culprit when it came to bad ingredients was my olive oil. I had one kind of olive oil and I used it for everything – dressings, sautés, roasting. It never really occurred to me to actually TASTE my olive oil and see if I liked it. But yet I would smother my salads in it.
Then Bob gave me a bottle of McEvoy Ranch olive oil for Christmas a few years ago and everything changed. I loved it. It was so incredibly flavorful, I could have happily eaten it all on it’s own. Instead, it became my “dressings ONLY” oil. Maybe mixed together with the littlest bit of lemon juice or light vinegar (no balsamics allowed).
Since then, I have always had my secret stash of olive oil used just for dressings. I spend a little extra to get the premium extra-virgin olive oil – the least processed, highest quality and most flavorful of the different options. I buy in small batches to avoid it going rancid and always keep it tucked away in a dark, cool place.
All that said, my intention is not to scare anyone away from making delicious salad dressings on the fly (Bob can make a great dressing with his eyes closed – a skill I definitely lack). Following recipes for dressings is my hang-up, silly but true. I say continue to experiment and iterate. But when a recipe calls for good quality extra-virgin olive oil, don’t settle for anything less. As I discovered after too many years of bad to mediocre dressings, the oil will make or break your salad.
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, firmly packed
1/2 cup basil, firmly packed
1/2 cup dill, firmly packed
1/4 cup mint, firmly packed
3 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend until all the ingredients are well combined – smooth but not completely liquified. Season with a bit of salt & pepper.
Yields about 2 cups.
Kitchen Note: Green Goddess dressing also work well with cold bean, grain or pasta salads. Store leftovers in an airtight container. It should keep for several days.