| October 3, 2012

Salad is nothing without dressing.

But rather than reach for that bottle of store-bought vinaigrette, why not try whisking up your own? Not only is a homemade dressing much cheaper, but it's often healthier than its bottled counterpart.

"Bottled dressings contain added sugars and preservatives that take a healthy meal or salad and make it less nourishing than most people realize," says Andrew Balick, the chef de cuisine of DiLido Beach Club, the oceanfront restaurant and lounge at The Ritz-Carlton in Miami's South Beach.

Best of all, Balick says there’s no beating the taste of a dressing made from scratch. “Store bought salad dressings lack the fresh flavor of a simple homemade dressing or vinaigrette,” he claims, saying that fresh and/or organic ingredients can really make a difference.

Balick’s five favorite dressing recipes are listed below, many of which can be made from a few simple base ingredients. The chef recommends stocking up on the following: extra virgin olive oil, your preferred vinegars (such as sherry, rice wine, red wine and balsamic), some citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.), good Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, shallots, pepper and kosher salt.

So try one of these recipes on your salad tonight.

Citrus Vinaigrette


  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chive, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use immediately.

Chef's Recommendation: Best served with grilled seafood.

Mustard-Soy Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of red chili flakes

Instructions: Whisk all ingredients together.

Chef's Recommendation: Best spooned over grilled salmon and brown rice.

Sherry-Parmesan Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces fresh parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • I shallot, minced
  • 4 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl to combine.

Chef's Recommendation: Enjoy over grilled asparagus and mushrooms.

Blue Cheese Dressing


  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup low fat blue cheese crumbles, room temperature
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in the fridge for at least two hours before using.

Chef's Recommendation: Try this as a healthier dip for baked chicken wings.

Balsamic-Pomegranate Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Chef's Recommendation: Try it on a simple green salad or Greek salad.

And remember, as long as you're using fresh herbs and quality ingredients, don't be afraid to experiment. "As a chef, I firmly believe a recipe is a guideline, not a mandate," says Balick. "You should feel comfortable changing flavors or using unexpected dressings on a meal depending on what you’re craving."

Well, one thing is for sure: We're definitely craving salad.