There is no limit to the variety of exciting salad dressings, sauces, and soups you can make once you understand the principles involved. A good dressing or sauce can enable you to be totally satisfied with your salad every day, even if you do not consider yourself a “good” cook. Salads never have to be boring-you are free to create a delicious new dressing for every salad!
The most flavorful sauces and salad dressings have five important components:
- Tart/sour/acidic: Producing a sharp sensation of taste and smell; piercing to the mind; sharply penetrating, expressive and stimulating.
- Sweet: pleasant and agreeable to the palate and mind, gratifying, with sugar-like overtones.
- Fatty or creamy: smooth, rich, oily, luscious, lush and velvety.
- Salty: increases intensity of flavors already present; adds additional taste by enhancing flavors.
- Herbs and Spices: complement and add drama and zest to the flavor of foods
Many ingredients satisfy two or more of the five components, so it’s possible to create a simple, yet delicious, dressing or sauce using only three ingredients.
For example, pineapples, oranges, and tamarind contain a natural balance of two important flavors-sweet and tart. These fruits, therefore, satisfy two of the basic elements. That makes them ideal as a base for salad dressings.
You may also use several different ingredients from the same category. For example: garlic, ginger, and hot chili peppers all fall into the spice category and, when combined with other ingredients from the basic five, they can help to create extraordinarily flavorful dressings for salads.
Celery, sea vegetables and miso all fall into the salt category, yet they can be used together in one recipe to add different salty flavors and create an individual, yet united, effect. When using more than one salt ingredient, use much less of each salty seasoning. Salt should be used sparingly, so the addition of herbs and spices are very important, since they help to flavor dressings without the overuse of salt.
Another important element is fats or other ingredients that add creaminess. The majority of salad dressings contain oil, although it is not necessary to use oil. There is no limit to the number of dressings and sauces you can make using whole-food fats (like avocado, young coconut and tahini) or fruits (like mango, pineapple, tomatoes, and cucumbers) that thicken and add creaminess. Whole-food fats are great sources of essential fatty acids, which are necessary for good health. Of course, that doesn’t mean, “if a little is good, a lot is better”, but for most people, a small amount of fat can be included in a health promoting diet. Fats also add to the “mouth-feel” or creamy texture of salad dressings. A few whole, soaked raw nuts and seeds like cashews, almonds or sesame seeds can also be used to achieve the creamy texture people enjoy so much on their salads. For easy digestion, we recommend you use only one fatty ingredient in a dressing at one time. In other words, when making a sauce or dressing, choose oil or avocado, but not both.
If you are avoiding fats in your diet, you can use peeled, seeded cucumbers or sweet red peppers and fruits like mango and papaya to create a satisfying, creamy texture. Add a tablespoon of lime juice to balance the sweetness and some fresh herbs or hot chili peppers, with salt or miso and garlic to round out the flavor.
Remember that food preparation is an art, not a science-so you can’t make a mistake, but since ingredients vary in flavor, always start with small amounts and flavor adjust your recipes to suit your taste.
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