Quick recipes and tips: versatile dressings

. January 31, 2014
Quick recipes and tips: versatile dressings

Food Editor Claire Aldous has a host of meal ideas, using just four dressings.

I serve a salad with every meal at home and one of the best recipe collections I ever started, and continue to expand, is dressings for salads. Even a simple bowl of iceberg lettuce, which is the most basic of ingredients, can be transformed into a delicious addition to a meal. 


Honey, Lime and Basil Dressing

⅓ cup olive oil

finely grated zest and juice 1 large lime

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

handful of basil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season.


Toss blanched and refreshed green beans with half the dressing, finely diced red onion, halved cherry tomatoes and chopped black olives. Divide between serving plates and top with sliced, seared tuna steaks and the remaining dressing. 

Put the dressing in a shallow dish and add medium-rare cooked duck breasts straight from the sauté pan, turning to coat. Leave for 15 minutes then slice thinly on the diagonal and place back in the dressing. Fold through roughly chopped dried figs, toasted hazelnuts, halved grapes, shredded witlof or cos lettuce and rocket. 


Tomato and Rosemary Vinaigrette

100 ml olive oil

½ red onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large vine tomato, halved, seeded and diced

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the olive oil, onion and rosemary in a small saucepan and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until the onion has started to soften a little. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, garlic and tomato. Season and cool.


Slice a barbecued, boneless leg of lamb and arrange on a platter. Scatter with crumbled feta and spoon over the vinaigrette.

Make an Italian panzanella bread salad by combining toasted, sourdough bread croutons with roughly chopped chunks of cucumber and raw zucchini, thinly sliced red onion, celery, olives, roasted almonds and ripped basil in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss together. To make an Arab fattoush salad, substitute large, bite-sized pieces of toasted pita breads
for the sourdough and add crisp
cos lettuce.

Use the fennel and chickpea salad, add a sliced, smoked chicken breast and toss with the vinaigrette.

Combine prepared couscous with blanched edamame beans and a diced, roasted red capsicum. Place on a platter and top with fillets of cooked salmon, broken into large pieces. Spoon over the vinaigrette. 


Smoked Paprika Dressing 

¼ cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season.


Arrange roughly chopped, cooked waxy potatoes, black olives, sliced spring onions and baby rocket on a platter. Top with flaked, smoked fish and roughly chopped hard boiled eggs. Drizzle everything with the dressing. 

Toss the dressing through a salad of thinly sliced raw button mushrooms and fennel, blanched and podded broad beans, sliced sun-dried tomatoes and lots of herbs. 

Arrange thick strips of roasted red and yellow capsicums on a platter. Drizzle with the dressing and scatter over toasted pine nuts, ricotta and capers.

Top plates of roughly crushed, roasted kumara with thick slices of roasted pork belly or pork fillet. Combine the dressing with chopped fresh dates, the diced flesh of an orange, finely chopped red onion, pistachios and mint. Spoon over the pork.


Crème Fraîche and Mustard Sauce 

½ cup crème fraîche

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons chopped chervil or dill

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season.


Toss thinly sliced raw salmon with lime or lemon juice for 10 minutes. Arrange in a single layer on a platter and drizzle with the sauce. Serve with good brown bread.

Cut a firm, iceberg lettuce into long wedges and place on a shallow serving dish. Drizzle with the dressing and top with roasted walnuts, crumbled crispy fried bacon and extra herbs.

Toss the dressing through warm, cooked waxy potatoes, cooked shelled prawns, a spoonful of capers, diced avocado and lots of herbs.