The Simple Ingredient That'll Heat Up A Bland Salad Dressing

A bland dressing can make even the freshest, most delicious salad seem boring and unappetizing, but there's an easy fix: Add a little bit of heat. Heat can come from various sources, such as chili peppers, garlic, or mustard. However, one of the frequently overlooked spicy ingredients that adds both heat and pungent flavor to a salad dressing is horseradish.

The spicy zing of horseradish is what makes cocktail sauce so piquant, and it's often used as a condiment with rich prime rib to help balance the fatty cut of meat. Horseradish comes from the root of a plant in the mustard family, and the flavor is a bit like very sharp mustard — one of the reasons it's such a natural addition to vinaigrettes. But even creamy mayonnaise-based salad dressings can be improved with the extra bit of excitement brought by this root. The heat of horseradish is easy to add from a purchased jar, or you can buy a fresh root in season to grate into your recipe.

Bringing the kick of horseradish to your salad bowl

You'll find several types of prepared horseradish available at the grocery store, usually in the condiment section. Jars labeled as such have vinegar as a primary ingredient to keep that fresh flavor. You'll also find cream-style horseradish sauce that has a texture more like mayonnaise. Either version makes a perfect addition to salad dressing when you want to get a more flavorful pop. For the spiciest vinaigrette, add prepared horseradish a teaspoon at a time to your recipe. If you go for the fresh root, grate it finely and mix it with a dash of vinegar, which will help keep the heat from dissipating. However you choose to spice things up, taste as you go to get the heat level you prefer.

A spicy horseradish salad dressing adds interest to plain greens like romaine and iceberg, which can be a tad boring without a flavor lift. Still, it would complement peppery arugula and tannic spinach, too. This dressing would also go well on salads with high-fat ingredients like avocado and cheese to help balance the richness. For a more toned-down version that still has heat, try adding horseradish to a mayonnaise-based recipe, like herby buttermilk ranch dressing or creamy homemade coleslaw dressing.