Globally Dressed: Salad Dressings Around the World
Have you ever stopped to really think about salad dressing? Ever wonder whose idea it was to douse raw vegetables with oil, vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, bleu cheese, mustard and spices?
According to the Association for Dressings and Sauces (seriously, this is a thing), salad dressing dates back to ancient times, when the Babylonians developed a hunger for oil and vinegar-dressed greens. Egyptians were equally into dressing, as were royals in Europe, including infamous Mary, Queen of Scots (her favorite was creamy mustard). Americans adopted the dressing trend in the twentieth century, and by the 1920s some of the major bottled brands on the market today had debuted.
Dressings of one sort or another are consumed the world over—but not always in the way you might think. For example, what we in America dub “Italian” dressing is never, ever served in Italy. There, salad comes undressed. Olive oil, vinegar, and salt are condiments on every table; you simply add that trio—and nothing more—to your salad to taste. Likewise, Russian dressing isn’t eastern European at all; its name comes from the Russian caviar that was an ingredient in the earliest versions.
Many countries and corners of the globe do have signature dressings, however. Here are several that we think sound especially delicious, and that are easy to whip up in your Whiskware™ Dressing Shaker.
Potato salad is perhaps the best-known German side dish, but Germans also love garden-fresh greens and vegetables. “Gurkensalat,” or cucumber salad, is made from thinly sliced cucumber dressed in vinegar, sugar, and fresh dill. When it comes to leafy greens, “salatsauce,” like the one in this recipe, is the go-to dressing—a blend of cream, lemon juice, and sugar with a memorably tangy taste.
Wafu is the name for Japan’s traditional dressing, a vinaigrette that combines the savory flavors of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and minced ginger and onion with the nutty taste of toasted sesame seeds. Try this recipe atop a simple salad of leafy greens, tomato and cucumber.
Bright, beautiful pomegranate seeds are an anti-oxidant superfood. They’re also widely incorporated into Indian cuisine, whether dried (called “anardana”) or fresh. Our mouths are watering over this Indian-fusion antioxidant-rich salad, which includes fresh pomegranate seeds, red grapes, and walnuts, and is dressed with this recipe, made from a pomegranate juice reduction.
Our neighbors to the north enjoy many of the same dressings that we eat in the States. But one ingredient does set many Canadian salad dressings apart: pure maple syrup (from Canada, of course). Get your hands on a bottle of the good stuff and try this recipe with tonight’s dinner salad. Bonus: you’ll have plenty of sticky sweet syrup leftover for your breakfast pancake feast.
Middle Eastern cuisine is a vegetarian’s dream. Sure, there’s plenty of meat on the menu, but vegetarian fare—including a wide range of delicious bean, grain, cheese, and vegetable dishes—figures prominently. Tahini (made from ground sesame seeds) is a staple of many recipes, and is rich with nutrients that support heart and immune system health. This Turmeric Tahini Dressing pays homage to the Middle Eastern palate, and tastes amazing on salads and grains alike.
Suriname is a tiny country on the northeastern coast of South America. But what Suriname lacks in size, it makes up for in flavor, featuring rich, spicy foods. This coconut dressing blends lime juice, coconut cream, Greek yogurt, jalapeno pepper, and coriander for a unique and refreshing explosion of flavor.
Greek salads are served around the world and with many minor variations, but the true traditional Greek salad—known as “Horiatiki,” or village salad—leaves no room for creative license. It’s always made from fresh ripe tomato, cucumber, green bell pepper, and red onion; topped with slabs of feta cheese and Kalamata olives; and dressed with a pinch of sea salt, dried oregano, olive oil, and sometimes a splash of red wine vinegar. If you prefer to buck tradition and try a slightly more complex dressing, try this Greek-inspired recipe, which adds garlic, lemon, and black pepper.
Forget the funky orange stuff—a classic French vinaigrette contains two key ingredients: minced shallots and Dijon mustard. This recipe will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks, so definitely go for the “big batch” option and have zesty dressing at the ready for days.
Dip down south of the border and you’ll find the fresh flavors of cilantro and lime garnishing nearly every plate. This recipe adds a kick of spice and the creaminess of avocado to perfectly balance the flavors of a bright cilantro lime dressing.
Poll your friends and family at your next dinner party, and chances are good a majority will choose Ranch as their favorite dressing. Ranch is by far the most popular dressing in America—we simply love licking up the buttermilk and mayonnaise mix. To up the health factor of this all-American favorite, try this twist on traditional Ranch, made with a high-protein, low-calorie Greek yogurt base.
Do you have a favorite dressing recipe? We’d love to try it! Share your go-to salad topper in the comments below.