The Underrated Trick Alex Guarnaschelli Uses For Better Salad Dressing

Salad dressing can play a number of roles. It can add flavor to a boring bowl of greens, it can liven up flavors that might otherwise be lackluster and can add fat to ingredients that have none. But depending on the style of dressing you're using or making, it can also overwhelm the flavors in your salad. A delicious vinaigrette that's full of citrus, herbs, and the acidic kick for your vinegar of choice might drown out delicate greens or step on garden-fresh produce, when what you really want is to accentuate those flavors.

Enter Alex Guarnaschelli. As she was preparing a no-waste broccoli salad on the Food Network's "The Kitchen," she whisked together the ingredients for her vinaigrette — dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and creamed horseradish. While she mentioned each item as she whisked, one ingredient didn't warrant calling out, until the host inquired about it. Katie Lee asked, "Is that water you put in?" Indeed, it was. 

Why does Guarnaschelli add water to salad dressing?

Guarnaschelli explained that adding "just a splash of water" to your salad dressing is one of the most "underrated" things a cook can do. She added that not only does the use of water tone down the powerful flavors in her dressing, but the host also finds that thinning salad dressing with a little water makes it easier to evenly coat everything with the dressing. This makes sense because texture and consistency are important when it comes to creating the perfect salad.

Whether you're using roasted broccoli or you're dressing a salad of fresh greens, a perfectly dressed salad gets all the goodness of your dressing into each bite, in just the right amount. Dressing that's too thick weighs down delicate lettuce and is hard to distribute evenly. That splash of water may be your salad dressing's secret weapon that helps you achieve the ideal balance. If this advice has you craving some greens, try making our green goddess dressing that incorporates ingredients like garlic, white wine, and tarragon.