Salads are so light, cool, and refreshing in the summertime, and if you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for new ways to mix yours up as the hotter months go on. One hack you might want to try this summer: Add a little barbecue sauce to your dressing!
It may sound more than a little unconventional, but it’s worth a shot. This tip comes from food editor Claire Lower, who recommends mixing barbecue sauce with a vinaigrette because the two acidic-yet-sweet flavors mesh really well together and can give your salad dressing an extra kick. She even recommends a do-it-yourself option to throw together that involves a quarter-cup of a neutral oil (like vegetable), a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar, and two or three tablespoons of your barbecue sauce of choice.
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical when I first read about this one! After all, barbecue flavoring and vinaigrette dressings seem like diametrically opposed ingredients on the surface. That said, sometimes the best food combos are the ones you least expect, so I gave this one a go. I actually tried two different rifts on this pairing: I created the DIY dressing that Claire Lower suggested, and I also mixed my barbecue sauce with an existing Italian vinaigrette I already had in my fridge just to try that out too. I drizzled both on a simple summer salad with cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and other veggies.
To my surprise, both of these dressings actually turned out great! There was definitely a tangy sweet-and-sour kick to them. I even added a little more barbecue sauce to the DIY one since the apple cider vinegar was a touch too acidic for me. I’m also interested in trying this recipe with the balsamic vinegar I have lying around my kitchen in the future. For the Italian vinaigrette one, I only added about one tablespoon of barbecue sauce to a quarter-cup of that existing dressing, and I still got the tart kick without it becoming too overpowering. Definitely start small with the the barbecue sauce and add more as you go as opposed to just dumping it all in there.
I’m definitely looking forward to trying out this combo with more veggie-heavy mixes like chopped salads and even a chicken-filled grain bowl or two this summer. I think this may be my new favorite way to spice up my summer salads!