I'm not sure who first thought of ranch dressing, but I'd like to marry that somebody.
Judge me if you will fellow salad-eaters, but the combination of greens, salty Cheddar, tomatoes, diced bacon and smoked turkey or chicken with a healthy drizzle of ranch is my idea of salad heaven. But that's certainly not to say that I don't adore a good vinaigrette—tart, fruity, pungent…I love them all. In fact, one of my food obsessions (not unlike Editor Jill Melton's single-minded adoration of arugula, by the by) is interesting vinegars and oils.
A peek in my pantry will reveal walnut, olive, sesame, pecan and pistachio oils and vinegars that run the gamut from fig-infused to Champagne to East Asian black—an inky vinegar made from rice, wheat, sorghum and spices that taste strongly of cloves. All have sneaked their way onto my salads at one point or another and when it comes time to make the dressing, I'm like a mad scientist tossing in herbs, spices, grated ginger, miso, fresh citrus, mustards or whatever else seems reasonable and strikes my fancy at the time.
Here are 10 salad dressing recipes that I happen to think are stellar—each will make a ho-hum bed of greens a great deal more memorable. There's even a homemade ranch for those days that only a buttermilky herby creamy dressing will do.
—By Stacey Norwood, Multimedia Editor