The Formula You Need to Dress Up *Any* Salad or Grain Bowl

September  8, 2017

A simple splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar right into the bowl is a wonderful way to dress crisp romaine or velvety butter lettuce—especially because there’s little cleanup, with no half-empty bottles of Italian vinaigrette to crowd my refrigerator shelves.

But as delicious and easy as oil and vinegar is, it’s not how I want every salad or grain bowl dressed. Sometimes, I need the bite of ginger or the comfort of creamy tahini, but experimenting with the ratios and flavor profiles of different oils and acids can overwhelm me.

Enter this no-fail formula to flavor any salad or grain bowl from David Bez's third cookbook, Supper Love:

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3 parts oil
1 part acidity (vinegar, soy sauce, citrus juice)
1 part creaminess (tahini, yogurt, nut butter)
1 part sweetness (honey, maple syrup, dates, agave nectar)
1 part herbs or spices

By providing lose guidelines instead of exact ingredients, Bez opens up an endless variety of flavor profiles to complement any lettuce, protein, or grain. You could try spicy horseradish or dijon, or sweet maple syrup with salty almond butter, or tangy yogurt and sharp garlic.

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Top Comment:
“I like to use a mustard , dijon, honey or grainy. I'm surprised that's not on his list”

While it’s great to play around with spices, Bez recommends focusing on one strong flavor, like smoked paprika or seaweed, allowing other ingredients to balance it. “I rarely use more than one spice at a time, and never more than two,” he writes.

Still need some recipe inspiration?

Here are some of our very best vinaigrettes and dressings to get you started:

Do you have a go-to dressing for lettuce or grains? Tell us your favorite or any ideas Bez's formula inspires!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Shannon Murphy
    Shannon Murphy
  • PHIL
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Shannon M. September 10, 2017
I've seen soy sauce mentioned as an acid ingredient a couple of times now, and I just can't figure it out. I've never had luck using soy sauce as acid--it's just not that acidic. Am I missing something?
PHIL September 8, 2017
I like to use a mustard , dijon, honey or grainy. I'm surprised that's not on his list
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 8, 2017
t's mentioned...
PHIL September 8, 2017
yes mentioned but it wasn't listed on the no-fail formula.