It’s time for summery food. Here are four easy dressings that work for every salad

If you’re eating alfresco today, these simple recipes will transform a dull bowl of leaves

Creamy, tangy, robust or herby: the right dressing can jazz up the most virtuous salad. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Creamy, tangy, robust or herby: the right dressing can jazz up the most virtuous salad. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

The secret to a great salad is a great dressing. Dressing your leaves like they’re about to appear on the Met Gala red carpet turns them from a second thought to fulfil your daily vegetable quota into a meal’s supportive understudy – ready to step in, perform and outshine if need be.

Like the friend who is able to impressively clear and co-ordinate everyone’s schedule for a weekend away, it’s the dressing that brings everything together.

All you have to do is master a few simple dressings and know when to wheel them out. These four have served me well. There’s no science or witchcraft to them, and they mostly use ingredients you probably already have at home.

The ‘throw me on everything’ dressing

Just like your favourite winter trench coat, this simple Italian dressing goes with everything. It’s your classic part extra-virgin olive oil, part vinegar combination, and you probably already have this one in your repertoire. This one really is about going on your own Italian vinegar adventure, depending on your vegetables and mood. Balsamic vinegar is great for salads that have a salty cheese (feta, goat’s cheese), tomato or fruit element (think grilled peaches or roasted pears). White-wine vinegar and red-wine vinegar can be used interchangeably; the red variety is slightly more pungent. Both work with leafy green salads and crunchy vegetables including fennel, cucumber and radish.

Ingredients
Extra-virgin olive oil
Your choice of balsamic, red-wine or white-wine vinegar

Method
For this one, generously coat salad with equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Taste as you go – if you like a more robust dressing, add an extra splash of olive oil; for more tangy, extra vinegar.

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The slightly fancy dressing

This one is a riff on your classic French vinaigrette. It’s a little tangy and a little sour. It works well with bitter leafy greens, including rocket, endive and chicory. This is a good one if you’re also going down the route of salad for dinner and having a tuna Nicoise, as the dressing is inoffensive and works well with fish, green beans, eggs and potatoes.

Ingredients
1 lemon, juiced
2tbsp Dijon mustard
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Whisk ingredients together or shake in a jar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The creamy leftovers dressing

Often the greatest kitchen victories are those when you open the fridge, declare “there’s nothing to cook” and then, using your end-of-week dregs, miraculously whip together an impressive anything-goes dish. For me the keys to experiencing this success involve having tahini and yogurt in the fridge and pouring this dressing over whatever rogue vegetables I’ve found. I’ll use this dressing over salads that incorporate a roasted-vegetable element (such as aubergine, cauliflower, sprouts or broccoli) or chickpeas and kale.

Ingredients
½ lemon, juiced
2tbsp tahini (preferably hulled)
3tbsp Greek yogurt
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Mix together and season to taste. Consistency should not be too thick or thin. Add extra olive oil if too thick, as it will help loosen the dressing and make it easier to coat everything in your salad.

The sad-herb-reviver dressing

This is one of the greatest kitchen-waste hacks – it utilises those wilted herbs in the bottom of the crisper and turns them into a herby, garlicky green sauce you will want to pour over everything from salads to meat. This version is a slight riff on one I learned from Alex Elliott-Howery of the Cornersmith cafe in Sydney, and as a salad-dressing fiend I bow down to her every day for bringing this dressing into my life. Again, you can interchange this recipe with whatever soft herbs you have left over in your fridge; it pairs well with bean salads and potato salads, and also over eggs and meat.

Ingredients
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1-2 cloves of garlic (based on your taste)
2 small bunches of soft herbs and stems (whatever you have left over; you can mix and match too – I like dill and parsley)
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Roughly chop your herbs, stems and all. Add everything to a food processor and blitz. Season to taste. You want the consistency to be slightly runny and similar to a chimichurri’s, so add extra olive oil if need be. Once done, transfer to a container and store in the fridge for up to five days. – Guardian

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