Salad Dressing

Joined May 16, 2003
Hi everyone.

Just wanted to get opinions on a subject I was discussing the other day with some other chefs.

Would the nature of the greens in a salad affect the amount of dressing you would apply to them? For example, would the amount you use for blander greens, (mache, boston lettuce, iceberg, etc.), be different than for more assertive greens like arugula? Or is your dressing portion pretty much standard from green to green?

Joined May 16, 2003
Also, to throw one more variable into the mix, would the flavor profile and/or assertiveness of the dressing influence the amount?

Joined May 26, 2001
To me, few things are worse than a salad dripping with dressing; maybe only one with too light a coating. ;) So I would not necessarily vary the amount, but I would vary the flavoring agents. More delicate leaves would get a more delicate dressing -- no shallots, maybe lemon thyme instead of rosemary, a lighter-flavored vinegar and oil, that sort of thing. Hardier leaves -- romaine, arugula, Belgian endive -- would get the full treatment. About the only dressing I like that I'd use on anything is a creamy vinaigrette I've done with tiny bits of mustard, egg yolk, and cream, that can go on all kinds of salads AND poached vegetables.
Joined Jul 23, 2002

I'll have to come back tomorrow and give my 2 cents worth on this one! A little late for my brain to reason reasonably...:p

See ya Manana!
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Factors to consider:
- bitterness (use a fruity sweeter dressing)
- water content (use more as the acidity of the dressing will be watered down)
- strength of flavour
- hardiness of the green

For mach for example, the last two come into play. Mache is delicate and it wilts quickly so anything acidic will kill it instantly. I only use olive oil and truffle oil for it, which is ok because I usually only use mache as a garnish anyway. (too pricey!)

I personally can't tolerate creamy dressings. They are goopy and they hide the natural character of the greens. I would favour a nice citrus dressing (mix of lemon lime and orange) which can be adapted for strength and sweetness according to which green it's going on.
Joined May 16, 2003
The one chef in our discussion basically felt the same as Suzanne.

Milder greens - milder dressing
Stronger greens - stronger dressing
No change in amount of dressing either way.

The other felt that blander greens may need a little more dressing to increase flavor since mild greens are not contributing that much flavor of their own to the finished product. He wasn't advocating drowning them, just stepping up the amount a little.

I kind of thought that overpowering delicate greens defeats the purpose of using them. By balancing gentle greens with a softer dressing you can still bring out the subtle nuances of the milder greens. Otherwise you're just using the greens as a vehicle to consume the dressing.



Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Unfortunately, this is what 90% of all Americans think greens are for, as a vehicle for their ranch dressing.

I am with Suzanne on this one. Vary the intensity/flavor of your vinaigrettes, not the amount you use to complement your greens. If you follow the "amount" theory you will often times end up with an underdressed or overdressed salad. Using a dressing that complements the greens means you can dress the greens with the right amount every time.
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