A good salad dressing can make or break your salad.Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
Vinaigrette salad dressing is flavorful, but it can also be so watery that it drips off your salad. There are many ways to thicken vinaigrette dressing to help make it stick to your greens. Some alternatives add extra flavor and some are too subtle to taste, but all provide what you need. If you're dieting, however, extra ingredients can also mean extra fat and calories.
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Oil is the most common ingredient used to thicken vinaigrette. Most vegetable oils, such as canola oil, have a subtle flavor that pairs well with vinegar. Olive oil has a stronger flavor than most oils, but it also tends to blend well with assorted vinegars and seasonings. Nut and seed oils, such as sesame seed oil, add a hint of rich background flavor to the vinaigrette. Oil-based products, such as mayonnaise, also provide a light flavor while thickening your dressing. The only drawback to oil and oil-based products is that they add fat to the dressing.
The fiber found in pureed vegetables helps add bulk to thicken vinaigrette. Vegetable puree is also low in fat, making it a healthy alternative to oil as a thickening agent. Corn puree provides a burst of sweet flavor and a yellow tint to vinaigrette. Pureed roasted bell peppers add a sweet and smoky flavor while thickening your dressing. Tomato puree has a versatile sweetness that works alone or paired with other ingredients. Puree tomatoes with banana peppers for a spicy kick to your vinaigrette or puree then with carrots and mushrooms for a veggie-lover's twist.
Fruit puree adds a sweet hint of flavor as it thickens your vinaigrette salad dressing. Fruits with reasonable bulk, such as apples, work better than juicing fruits, such as lemon, when it comes to thickening liquids. Apple puree, or applesauce, adds a subtle sweet flavor and pairs well with a variety of vinaigrette dressings. Mango puree has a strong flavor that adds a tropical taste as it thickens the dressing. Raspberry puree has a moderately strong flavor that pairs well with vinaigrette.
Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is a lightly flavored way to bulk up any liquid. Choose the soft or silken variety of tofu for the easiest mixing. Mash or blend the protein-rich tofu into the vinaigrette to mix it in completely. Tofu and soy milks add a hint of thicker consistency to the dressing. These work better than regular milk because their taste is light enough to blend with the vinegar, instead of clashing with it like dairy products tend to do.