Need ideas for salad dressing pairings? I am partnering with Hamptoncreek and Link Vehicle to share some of the best flavor combinations that go with your favorite fresh green salad!
Almost everyone who loves fresh green salad has a favorite dressing to go with it. Many folks grew up on the classic, crunchy iceberg salad with slivers of carrot and purple cabbage, topped with creamy ranch or blue cheese, and a pair fat cherry tomatoes. There are so many more ways to enjoy fresh greens, especially with the best salad dressing pairings!
With the passing of time, consumers have been given many more salad options in the produce aisle. The old standbys are still there: heads of romaine, red and green leaf, and butter lettuce beg to be washed and placed in your crisper. Bags of ready-to-eat salad mixes speak to the busy cook who prizes convenience. Other varieties, such as arugula, radicchio, and endive have become mainstream additions to dinner salads as well.
During the same time frame that consumers learned to love a wide variety of greens, many exciting new dressings entered the market. Heavy fat-based flavors, such as ranch and blue cheese, were lightened up. Vinaigrettes, while not exactly new, were remade to be a healthier, more flavorful option. As more people embraced these new offerings, the question arose of how make the best salad dressing pairings with your greens. Luckily, experts have laid out a few guidelines for you.
The best salad dressing pairings that compliment your greens
Spicy or Bitter Greens Need a Hint of Sweetness
Dinner menus today are sporting a selection of spicy or bitter greens, such as arugula, frisee, and radicchio. Some salads use just one of them, while others combine two or three. Because of their strong flavors, chefs recommend drizzling them with a slightly sweet dressing. Options might include balsamic vinaigrette or a simple mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and honey, seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Baby Spinach and Other Tender Greens Need Delicate Dressings
Sweet baby greens are prized for their soft texture, sweet flavor, and high nutritional value. When treated properly, they keep well in your produce drawer for a week or so. After that, all bets are off, due to their tender nature. While they are fresh and delicious, pair them right with delicate dressings. Mix up a simple batch of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and dried herbs of your choice.
Make note, however, that the acid in your dressing, vinegar in this case, will cause young greens to wilt to the point they appear cooked. Your fresh, crisp salad will be reduced to a pile of dead, soggy leaves that no one will enjoy. To ensure that your salad looks and tastes delicious, sprinkle the dressing on right before you take your first bite.
Mature Spinach Takes the Heat
If you’ve ever enjoyed a warm bacon and spinach salad, you know how addictive it can be. There is just something amazing about the salty bacon, tangy red vinegar, crunchy purple onions, and sliced boiled egg that makes plain old spinach taste like a dream come true. Because the salad is tossed in a warm pan, the spinach wilts, causing it to absorb the flavors of the dressing. Easy to eat, filling, and imminently satisfying, it is the best dressing for mature spinach leaves.
Sturdy Greens Can Stand Up to Anything
Endive and kale are two examples of greens that have very sturdy leaves. Each sports a bitter taste to go along with their show of strength, which can be tamed by any heavy dressing you can imagine. Ranch and blue cheese might spring to mind, but more creative options are out there. Hamptoncreek, the company that makes healthy mayo alternatives, also produces a line of delectable dressings. Creamy and tangy varieties will shine, such as:
– Sweet and creamy mustard
– Green goddess
– Creamy Caesar
– Thousand Island
Don’t stop there, though. Sturdy greens don’t limit themselves to creaminess; they also play well with fruity vinegar-based dressings, such as raspberry, strawberry, and citrus.
Pairing salad greens with the best dressing is a simple matter of matching flavors and textures of lettuces to dressings that compliment them. Spicy and bitter greens pair with sweet vinegar-based dressings, while sturdy greens go with heavy cream-based ones. Delicate leaves require the simplest dressings, but mature leaves can handle complex flavors.
No matter which type of salad and dressing your family prefers, it can be fun to experiment with unfamiliar varieties. The next time you find yourself in the salad dressing aisle, reach for something new and create your own favorite salad dressing pairings.