Posted by: timscooking | February 1, 2010

Dressings 101

I don’t buy bottled salad dressings anymore. I got tired of sorting through the collection of bottles that were either outdated or contained less that the amount you might use for a single serving of salad. Not only that but a single 8 ounce bottle might cost as much as $5 to $6.

Bottled dressings also tend to have too much salt, use oils that are high in fats and have a variety of additives to keep them shelf stable in the store and in your refrigerator.

I’ve learned that with a few basic ingredients, I can create a fresh, healthy alternative to the bottled variety. These include a variety of vinegars: apple cider, balsamic, champagne, red wine, and sherry. An emulsifier that will hold the finished product together; I use Dijon mustard 95% of the time. The third ingredient is good extra virgin olive oil. Brands of vinegar and oil olive are really a matter of taste and budget. You will need to try some different ones to establish a preference. Many of the food magazines like Food & Wine and Cook’s Illustrated will run taste tests on these items which may point you in the right direction.

Basic Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons vinegar (your choice from above list)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Using either a glass or non-reactive (stainless steel) bowl large enough for you to work a whisk, pour in the vinegar and add the mustard. Whisk until the mustard is throughly incorporated into the liquid. While continuing to whisk, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. This should be enough dressing for two decent size salads. I have used a blender also but only when making dressing for more than 4 servings.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can broaden your dressing selection by substituting fresh citrus juice such as lemon, lime or grapefruit for the vinegar. You could also add finely chopped garlic, tarragon, or thyme to the mix.

So why settle for bottled dressings when you can make fresh in about the time it took you to read this post?



  1. Sounds easy and yummy!

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