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A: There’s no doubt that shop-bought dressings are convenient, but they’re also packed full of chemical emulsifying agents and usually lack flavour. Homemade dressings are so much better. They’re fresh, healthy and totally adaptable – so you can add your favourite ingredients and tweak recipes according to you and your family’s tastes.
A: A good dressing is a balance of sweet and sour flavours, so I always make my dressings to a ratio of 3:1, which is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Cold-pressed rapeseed is my oil of choice thanks to its flavour and health benefits, and you can’t beat a good vinegar from our fellow local producers, Aspall. Once I have the base vinaigrette, I add mustard, mayonnaise or honey to bind the oil and vinegar together, and sometimes I’ll throw in extra ingredients like ginger, garlic, chilli, fresh herbs and soy.
First of all, it’s really important to whisk the vinegar as you slowly add the oil, to help it to bind. If you’re adding fresh ingredients like garlic, use a garlic press and then smash it to a paste, so you don’t end up with big lumps. And don’t forget to season your dressing with a good quality salt and pepper!
It all depends on the ingredients. If you’ve included fresh herbs or dairy, it will last around a week in the fridge. Vinaigrettes last longer – around two weeks in the fridge stored in an airtight container. I like to make a big batch of dressing at the start of the week, and use it to dress everything from salads to freshly steamed seasonal greens.
Unlike olive oil, rapeseed oil doesn’t solidify in the fridge, so it can be used straight away instead of waiting for the dressing to reach room temperature. But for me the main advantage of cold-pressed rapeseed oil is its superior flavour – it has a much more rounded taste than other oils, and compliments the vast majority of dressing recipes.
Now that’s a tough question! At this time of year when we’re eating about chunky salads and barbecued meats, nothing beats a good caesar-inspired Chef’s Dressing. But I also love experimenting with oriental flavours – which is why this Great British Salad Dressing is sitting in my fridge at home as we speak!