Oil is a commonly used ingredient in salad dressing in salads; it enhances the salad's taste and helps distribute other salad dressing ingredients evenly over the salad. However, it does add a lot of fat to a salad. If you want to reduce or eliminate the fats, you can substitute a variety of liquid ingredients for the oil. Essentially, any flavored liquid can become a tasty dressing, as long as you know what to mix it with.
Fruit juice adds a sweet twist to your basic garden salad. It can also add a tangy twist if you use citrus juices. Your dressing may be a little thin, but it will be flavorful. The most common fruit juice in a salad dressing is lemon juice, but you can mix things up by using lime, apple, pomegranate or pineapple. Sweet fruit juices tend to work well with tangy or salty salads that need a sweet twist; sweet fruit juice on a sweet salad may be too sugary to enjoy. Tangy fruit juices work on both tangy and sweet salads. Both types of juice work alone or when paired with lightly flavored herbs, such as parsley.
Vinegar is almost as common in salads as oil. It has a tangy taste that helps wake up your taste buds. You can use regular vinegar with seasoning or you can use seasoned vinegar alone to create the dressing. Regular cooking vinegar, such as apple cider or red wine vinegar, goes with a variety of seasonings. Seasoned vinegar has already had herbs and spices added and is usually sweetened, so it doesn’t need any altering to become a tasty salad dressing. Vinegar dressings pair well with everything from tangy to sweet salads. Vinegar has a consistency like water, so the dressing will be a little runny. It also has a powerful flavor, so you don’t need to use much.
Watered-down mustard, or mustard mixed with a thinner such as white wine vinegar, can give your salad a sophisticated taste without using oil. Any kind of mustard will do, although the fancier-tasting the mustard the fancier-tasting the dressing. Mustard works well with most types of salads. It also blends well with many seasonings and ingredients, such as garlic and honey. It can be made to a thick consistency, similar to oil, so that it stays on the salad instead of dripping off.
General sauces, most notable soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, can be used plain or watered down to create an oil-free salad dressing with a complicated flavor. The watery dressings pair well with sweet or tangy salads. However, salty salads tend to be overwhelmed when paired with a soy or Worcestershire sauce, which are both salty. Other sauces you can water down to turn into a salad dressing include horseradish sauce, tomato sauce and alfredo sauce. Horseradish works best to add a spicy kick to a plain salad. Tomato sauce has a slightly sweet taste that works well with garden-based salads. Alfredo sauce provides a creamy touch and works well with chicken-based salads.
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