The Ingredient That Will Change Your Salad Dressing Forever

If you aren't already making your own salad dressing, you should be. We wouldn't ask you to add anything more to your plate if it wasn't worth it, but homemade salad dressing absolutely is. Good fresh greens and veggies will go a long way in taking your salad from a chore meal to a joy, but nothing will make you understand the true lure of salad like fresh dressing. Store-bought dressings can be underwhelmingly bland or one-note, and Vail Health claims they're packed full of preservatives, sugar, and salt, which completely undermine the heath appeal of salad. Homemade salad dressing, on the other hand, can be rich, bright, and flavorful, all while using healthy ingredients like citrus and olive oil that only serve to enhance the meal's health benefits.

The good news is that making homemade salad dressing is super easy. You probably have all the ingredients for a vinaigrette already, and bringing it together is as simple as shaking it in a jar. Plus, when you make your own dressing, you can customize it to your own taste. The simple formula of vinaigrettes and other dressings makes it easy to swap out ingredients or add seasonings to fit the flavors of the salad you're making. But, there are some options you may have never considered, including one ingredient that has a unique and powerful flavor.

Try walnut oil for a twist on salad dressings

The basis of most salad dressings is oil. This usually takes the form of extra virgin olive oil, or more neutral tasting oils like vegetable and canola. However, there is a whole world of cooking oils out there and if you want to transform your vinaigrettes, you should give walnut oil a try. According to Earthbound Farm, walnut oil has a luscious flavor that stands up to the powerful tastes of items like blue cheese and apples. Walnut and other nuts are already a natural addition to salads, but walnut oil will infuse every bite with those nutty undertones and elevate the whole salad with its savory flavor.

Walnut oil is a more premium ingredient, and like other oils for salad dressings, you want to spring for the good stuff. Simply Recipes warns that refined walnut oil can be overly bitter and won't have as strong a nut flavor as cold-pressed. Like sesame oil, walnut oil can become a little overpowering, so use it in smaller doses than you would your normal dressing oil. 

You can also add walnut oil as a compliment to other oils in your recipe if you want to add a nutty element to your salad without having it dominate the flavor.