Make Ahead

The Most Important Jar in Your Office Fridge

May 20, 2014

As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: You deserve better than bottled dressing. Make your own at home, and let it save your lunches all week.

Tahini Dressing on Food52

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The most important jar in your office fridge isn't the Nutella you reach for after an arduous day of spreadsheets, or the industrial-sized salsa that shows up at every last-minute staff birthday party you throw together. No, the most important jar to have on hand a work is an unassuming bit of dressing, something that took you five minutes and less than five dollars to shake together in preparation of the week ahead. 

More: Another make-ahead lunch staple? A big pot of white beans

Dressing is the duct tape that holds together even the most meager-sounding lunches: a little lettuce and a cup or so of quinoa, or some sticks of carrots that are primed for dipping. It will weave together leftovers -- roast chicken and rice, say -- into a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. And a simple green salad feels like a relief next to heftier leftovers that need eating (pizza, I'm looking at you).

Remember: You're better than bottled dressing. Here are our favorite homemade versions to keep on hand at all times: 

Tahini Dressing on Food52

Tahini-based dressings are just the thing when you want something more substantial, without veering into mayonnaise's creamy territory. Pair them with sturdier vegetables and grains. 

Ranch Dressing on Food52

When you do want something creamy, shake up a jar of buttermilk ranch or blue cheese dressing. Few lunches are easier than a hacked-off head of iceberg lettuce, drizzled with blue cheese dressing, crumbled with this morning's leftover bacon. 

How to Make a Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette is your most traditional option, but don't take that to imply boring. The tangy slap in the face from a bright, acidic dressing will wake you up like a good cup of coffee, without the risk of heart palpitations. Here's how to make it your own, without a recipe. 

How to Make Aioli on Food52

Yes, aioli counts as salad dressing. Especially when you use it for dipping fresh spring vegetables -- raw, or lightly blanched -- like asparagus, radishes, and the world's tiniest artichokes. Add in whatever flavors you like; it will also make run-of-the mill sandwiches feel special, and it will sex up potato salad.

Tell us: What dressing do you keep on hand at the office?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kim
  • Michele
  • EatsMeetsWest
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
  • 9stein
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



Kim July 28, 2014
Definitely agree! I always have a small mason jar of dressing in our office fridge :-)
Michele May 28, 2014
Absolutely love these suggestions. Not only are the dressings interesting but I am transfixed by the containers. What I have used not only looks horrid, but leaks. Is it possible to find out whose lovely glass containers these are??
Kim May 28, 2014
Michele, I believe they are by Weck - I'm in love with them. I haven't purchased any yet, for fear that I will not be able to stop, but they're on the list...
Marian B. May 28, 2014
Yes, and we sell them on Provisions! Here's the link:

I have them at home, and I use them constantly. For dressings and lots of other things!
Michele May 28, 2014
Thank you both!!! I will be getting them asap.
EatsMeetsWest May 20, 2014
What great timing. Yesterday I made some pasta salad for today's lunch (see here: and was mixing together different condiments to make a master sauce. I was going for creamy but not flat, so I ended up using a combo of tartar sauce, mayonnaise, jalapeno-lime aioli, and some relish for a good kick. The jalapeno added some flair while the relish kept things a little bright and punchy - but it all tasted so-so, not as flavorful as I would have liked it to be. Any tips for how to make this sauce addicting? I was thinking that adding apples to the pasta might have been better overall instead of having radishes.
Marian B. May 20, 2014
All fixed -- sorry about that!
9stein May 20, 2014
Yes, broken links. :(
xhille May 20, 2014
Broken links!