How to ... make delicious salad dressings

The Roots Guide to a Summer of Well-dressed Salad!

Preparing for the new season of lovely fresh leaves, first from our greenhouse and then from the fields, now is the time to re-fresh your store cupboard ingredients. Then you will be ready to dress those freshly picked salads with, fresh and light dressings complementing their delicious characters.

Good quality oils and vinegars will happily store for the season in a cool larder. I do insist on freshly ground black pepper and ideally sea salt flakes, for seasoning, that can be satisfyingly scrunched between your fingers with a flourish!

The easiest, no fuss way of making these dressings, in the time that it takes to spin a salad, is to shake them up in clean jam jar. Begin by placing all the ingredients except the oils into the jam jar and give an initial shake, then add the oils and shake vigorously to emulsify the ingredients.

A fresh and light dressing, for a ‘naked salad’, bright and lemony, good for all leaves, thinly sliced vegetables, or beans. Add a little mustard or chopped mint if you like, especially good with radish and broad beans.

120ml olive oil

Zest of a lemon

2 tbsp lemon juice

Pinch of caster sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

A rich and earthy dressing, good for hearty leaves such as spinach, chard or young kale, lentils or roasted vegetables (fresh, new season beetroot in particular).

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Pinch caster sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

A creamy, mustard dressing, for soft leaves, delicious accompaniment to smoked ham, nuts and thin shaving of nutty cheese such as Gruyere or Emmental.

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp lemon juice

1tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp crème fraiche

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp walnut oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Homemade Mayonnaise – Now you are confident with simple dressings, I encourage you to have a go at making this mayonnaise. The absolute key is freshly laid eggs, seek them out at your local farm shop and ask when they were laid (you need an egg that is no more than a day old). Supermarket eggs, even if they are organic or free range will not be fresh enough.

2 egg yolks (at room temperature)

2 tsps white wine vinegar

½ tsp salt

150ml sunflower oil

150ml olive oil In a bowl

Lightly whisk the egg yolks, vinegar and salt. Continue whisking as you add a few drops of oil at a time, incorporating each drop as you go. When you have added a similar volume of oil to egg yolk you can add the oil a little more quickly as the emulsion will be more stable. Home-made mayonnaise will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to a week.