The Canned Ingredient You Need For Richer Salad Dressing

If you were to consider incorporating a new ingredient into your homemade vinaigrette salad dressing, it would make sense if you thought about adding a touch of anchovy paste. However, there's an unexpected ingredient that could add that bit of rich texture and sweet flavor you're really look for. The next time you make a batch of vinaigrette, consider whisking in a teaspoon of canned pumpkin. It might sound a little odd, but hear us out.

As an all-star additive, it's hard to beat canned pumpkin and it has been long advocated for becoming a pantry staple. (In fact, we even ranked common canned pumpkin brands to make your shopping decisions easier.) Apart from its health benefits — pumpkin has loads of beta-carotene and vitamin K — it can be a fabulous, autumnal addition to breakfast foods like pancakes and oatmeal as well as savory foods like sour cream or hummus. So naturally, it could do wonders for a salad dressing that is a bit lackluster. 

Canned pumpkin makes for a slightly sweeter and elevated salad dressing

A touch of canned pumpkin purée will bring a little of its earthy sweetness to your vinaigrette, eliminating the need for added sugar. But it will do more than that: Canned pumpkin also acts as an emulsifier, helping to bind the dressing's vinegar (or lemon juice) and oil together. 

Oil and acid, like oil and water, are what food scientists call "immiscible,"  meaning they won't combine without effort. Emulsifying agents help facilitate this process and are used all the time in processed and packaged foods like peanut butter or mayonnaise. Since pumpkin purée acts as an emulsifier, adding it to your salad dressing will literally help keep it together, creating a velvety consistency that won't be subject to separating.

Once made, spread it over your favorite greens or proteins, such as a colorful niçoise salad or a jalapeño lime three bean salad. You now have yet another reason to keep a can or two of pumpkin purée in your pantry, and it's got nothing to do with pumpkin spice for a change.