I’m often a very lazy salad dressing maker, to the point that I usually just drizzle the salad with some oil and sometimes vinegar if I’m feeling fancy. (Maybe this is why I don’t eat a lot of salads.) But the move has reunited me with my beloved blender, and I celebrated its return with an actual salad dressing. It has shallots and garlic and two kinds of fat, which means it’s fancy, but it takes approximately two minutes to make. Longer than straight olive oil, but I think I can spare the time.
In my experience, there are two tricks to salad dressing: 1) convince yourself that it’s worth dirtying another dish (see above) and 2) managing an emulsion. Just like mayonnaise, salad dressing takes two thin, see-through liquids and turns them into a thick, opaque, delicious substance. Just like cornstarch or another thickener, adding tiny bubbles of oil to the vinegar totally changes its viscosity.
But you can’t just pour the ingredients together and expect it all to work out. The blender, in addition to chopping my shallot and garlic for me, shears the oil into little tiny droplets, even smaller than you get when whisking by hand. Those tiny droplets find themselves lost in a sea of water-based plants and vinegar, unable to find their oily kin. Because they all stay separate, the oil bubbles act like solid particles would, slowing down the flow of the liquid (thickening) and preventing light from passing through (making it opaque).