The Magic Sauce

The Magic Sauce

Make everything better with magic sauce


How to make meals easier and tastier? Probably a question many of us ponder every day when it comes to cooking at home.

Well, here's one of my top tips: Make everything better in seconds by pouring on some magic sauce! (Yes, ketchup works because of the same principle, but you can do better than that with very little effort!)

In the shop we get asked about (bottled) salad dressing quite often. Don't we sell any? Why not? The obvious answer is that we don't have enough shelf space. The less obvious (but just as valid) answer is that is just is sooo easy to make. And it will be sooo much better than anything you can buy!

In our house, my other half is the salad chef, so he gets to make the magic salad sauce. This is our special recipe:

The two basic ingredients of a salad dressing are oil and acid.

We always use olive oil, but you can use any oil you like. The acid part is usually some type of vinegar (cider vinegar, balsamic, wine vinegar, etc) but could also be citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange...), or anything else acidic (pickling juice, for example!).

The magic proportion for a good salad dressing is 3 to 1

That is 3 parts oil, 1 part acid. You can measure this in spoonfuls, cupfuls or finger-highs, just stick to the 3:1 ratio.

Vigorously mix until thick and shiny; the emulsion comes together once the droplets of the water-based acid have fully dispersed into the oil - use a fork, or a whisk, or simply shake.

Top tip: Make a larger batch in a jar. It keeps well for a few days, so for the most part all you'd need to do is shake and pour!

More magic happens when you add a few simple extras - those add-on ingredients that boost flavour and also contribute to the binding (emulsifying) of the oil and water base, making the dressing thicker and smoother.

Examples of flavourful emulsifiers:

  • mustard, honey, maple syrup, pomegranate molasses, soy sauce, tahini, miso, mayonnaise, yoghurt, sour cream, ...

Examples of extra flavourings: 

  • a touch of garlic or chilli, ground ginger, other spices, fresh or dried herbs

Play around and find your own favourite combinations - for the record, here are two of ours:

>> Vinaigrette: 
olive oil, balsamic, mustard, pomegranate molasses

>> Asian:
olive oil, lemon juice, ground ginger, honey, soy sauce

Other good things to add to a salad:
'Salady' things are obviously nice in a salad, but you if you add some contrast and/or substance with simple things you already have in your kitchen, you can really boost the 'wow' effect of your salad.

  • add flavour: olives, capers, pickled onions, artichoke hearts, crumbled cheese,...
  • add texture: toasted seeds or nuts (anything from pine kernels to chopped nuts to coconut flakes), croutons, crispy fried bacon or tofu,...
  • add substance: left over boiled potatoes, rice or pasta, beans, lentils or chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, tinned fish,...

But it's not just the salad you can jazz up with extras: you can jazz up all sorts of things (especially leftovers) with a bit of magic sauce. This literally makes a meal out of anything:

  • Steamed, stir-fried or grilled veggies, boiled potatoes, left over rice or pasta
  • Sunday roast leftovers, fried tofu, cold cuts, a tin of beans or lentils,...

Get creative - it's easier than you think and you won't regret it. 

At the very least, make some special salad sauce!


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