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

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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:

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

How to Make Any Grain Salad in 4 Steps

How to Make Any Grain Salad in 4 Steps by Emily Horton

How to Make a Better Leafy Salad Without a Recipe

How to Make a Better Leafy Salad Without a Recipe by Hollis Miller


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.

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:

No-Frills Miso Dressing

No-Frills Miso Dressing by Joy Belamarich

Caramelized Tangerine Vinaigrette

Caramelized Tangerine Vinaigrette by Amanda Hesser

Carrot-Ginger Dressing (Benihana Style)

Carrot-Ginger Dressing (Benihana Style) by Sarah Jampel

Almond Butter Citrus Sauce

Almond Butter Citrus Sauce by Gena Hamshaw

Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing by Brette Warshaw

My Basic, Go-To Yogurt Dressing

My Basic, Go-To Yogurt Dressing by EmilyC

Really Good Vinaigrette

Really Good Vinaigrette by Kristy Mucci

April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing

April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing by Genius Recipes

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

Tags: Salad, Sauce, DIY Food, Books