Now that summer is here, it's really tempting to serve up a salad once or twice a day. Of course, this could become a little boring if you're not careful, but one way of avoiding that is by using a variety of dressings and there are plenty to choose from. Why not try these six for a start?

Slow-roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

Slow Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

For a tangy dressing that goes well with anything from a crisp leafy salad to a bean and pasta dish, try this easy to prepare recipe.

Ingredients

  • 350g ripe tomatoes
  • 30ml red wine vinegar
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 25g finely chopped garlic
  • 25g finely chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 2 and grease a 20cm square baking dish.
  2. Halve and core the tomatoes.
  3. Toss all ingredients apart from the vinegar in a bowl before spreading evenly in the dish.
  4. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down completely.
  5. Place tomato mixture and vinegar in a blender and liquefy.

To serve, toss a leafy salad in the dressing or use it as a garnish on the edge of each plate.

Spinach and Avocado Dressing

For a fresh and subtle taste of summer, try this versatile and very easy dressing that converts to a thick and tasty dip with just a slight tweak to the amount of liquid you add to it.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole avocado, cubed
  • 250g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 25g finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 100ml fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 60ml white wine vinegar (30ml if you want to use it as a thick dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients, apart from salt and pepper, in a blender.
  2. Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.

To serve, drizzle over salad or serve in a bowl with cruditès on the side.

Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette

If you want something a little more exotic, this spicy combination has an Asian feel and puts a zing in even the most bland leaf-based salad. It also goes well with chickpeas or as a marinade for chicken or tofu.

Ingredients

Sliced Lemon

  • 60ml fresh orange or lemon juice (or a mixture of both)
  • 15ml honey
  • Zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon
  • 5ml grated ginger
  • 5ml curry powder
  • 5ml white wine vinegar
  • 125ml nut oil (almond, macadamia, walnut, etc)
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Toast the curry powder in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, stirring continuously.
  2. Combine the honey, juice, zest, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl before adding the toasted curry powder and oil.
  3. Stir thoroughly and season with salt.

(Leave refrigerated overnight for a stronger flavour.)
Use as a drizzle or toss a salad in the vinaigrette.

Herb Vinaigrette

This easily adapted vinaigrette has a classic flavour and looks great as a focal point on the dinner table. Although certain herbs are suggested in this recipe, you can add your favourites instead, or use whatever you have growing in the garden.

Ingredients

  • 225ml light oil (sesame, safflower, extra-virgin olive oil etc)
  • 30ml honey
  • 125ml white wine vinegar
  • 50g roughly chopped basil
  • 50g roughly chopped oregano
  • 50g finely chopped chives
  • 2g coarse sea salt

Method

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine honey, vinegar and salt until well mixed.
  2. Whisk in your chosen oil before adding the herbs and chives.
  3. Leave in a fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight, to allow flavours to infuse.

Serve with thick toast, as a dip or drizzle over a salad.

Garlic and Chilli Dressing

Chilli Dressing

Everybody should learn at least one good garlic-based dressing and then avoid using it before important meetings or before a first date. This healthy hot and garlicky mix fits the bill.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium-sized cloves of garlic
  • 2 large finely chopped chillies (Or smaller, hotter chillies if preferred.)
  • 30ml water
  • 45ml red wine vinegar
  • 30ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2g salt

Method

  1. Crush the garlic, chillies and salt, using a pestle and mortar, until completely ground to a paste.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly whisk all ingredients, including the garlic and chilli paste, until the mixture is light and frothy.

This is perfect as an addition to a leafy salad, pasta or drizzled over barbecued vegetables, fish or meat.

Lime and Shallot Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 medium-sized finely chopped shallots
  • 450ml lime juice
  • 30ml olive oil (Plus a little extra for frying)
  • 30ml finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 10ml honey (Essential to take the edge off the lime juice' sharpness.)
  • 2g freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and brown the shallots, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking.
  2. Add the lime juice and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering the mixture until thick.
  3. Set the pan aside until the reduction has cooled.
  4. Put the lime juice and shallot mixture, the parsley, pepper and honey into a blender.
  5. As the ingredients are blending, gradually add the remainder of the oil and continue until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Pass through a sieve to be certain of a fine consistency.

Delicious when drizzled over leaves, diced strong cheese and olives.

Vinaigrette dressings can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, while those that contain yoghurt should be used within three to four days, so you can plan ahead for barbecues. One of the best things about a salad dressing is that, if you make it yourself, it's very easy to add more of your favourite ingredients so the result will be perfect for you. With a low-fat dressing, you can raise any salad to new heights without compromising your waistline.