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Salad dressing

I never thought that I could make a salad dressing that would taste as good as bottled. For too many years I bought bottled. I can't afford it now, so I had to confront my dressing-impairment directly.

Sat down with Bittman's How to Cook Everything and read his diatribe re bottled dressings. The key to making better dressings, he explained, was a blender, which would thoroughly emulsify the oil and vinegar. Oy, what a dumbkopf I've been, with my puny fork-whipped dressings. No wonder they separated immediately.

I blended some fancy organic olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and a large garlic clove. Success! I am enjoying wilted-cabbage-and-peanut salad right now :)

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  1. Bottled dressings, particularly Italian dressings, also often include emulsifiers such as lethicin, which give the dressing a thicker viscosity and helps keep it from separating. Something to keep in mind when making dressings from scratch, if you notice they don't seem exactly like their bottled counterparts.

    There's an Amish "boiled" dressing I've been meaning to try as well, that might be of interest. It's cooked then chilled - sort of looks like a mayo based creamy dressing, but much safer since there are no raw eggs in it. It's also relatively low fat too.

    1. Good for you! That's one of my favorite salad dressings too. I usually make just enough for 1 or 2 servings and whisk it by hand. Good to know about the blender.

      I don't like bottled dressings generally. So many of them contain soybean oil and I can taste it. It's a total buzzkill. ;)

      1. Keep experimenting -- the combinations are endless.

        1. I once may extra virgin olive oil Mayo and it was so bitter. I was told in chow that it's due to blending the oil. Did you have any problems. Did you use regular or extra virgin?

          7 Replies
          1. re: Siegal


            broadway show years ago "2/two/too hot tamales"
            they made complete meal while we watched.
            end of meal something was served and we were instructed to use 'placed on table' olive oil. we'd already had a few others for different stages of meal. this one was very bitter and to my taste, off putting. I noted that.

            1. re: Siegal

              Used some organic, extra-virgin olive oil from my health-food co-op. Wasn't bitter at all :)

              1. re: Felila

                Thanks. Maybe it's only bitter if emulsified like mayo...hmm

                1. re: Siegal

                  Olive oil is not the best choice for mayo, because the flavor is too strong.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Absolutely right. I tried making mayo with olive oil many, many years ao, and it put me off trying it again.

                2. Wait until you make ur own bleu cheese dressing. I recommend the Chart House recipe,

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      Chart house blue cheese
                      3/4 cup sour cream
                      1/2 tsp dry mustard
                      1/2 tsp pepper
                      1/2 tsp salt (scant)
                      1/3 tsp Garlic powder
                      1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
                      1 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
                      4 oz Danish blue cheese crumble

                      Serving size 6-8

                      Suggest letting flavors blend for 1-2 hours before serving

                      1. re: LaLa

                        tonight's the night, tnx

                    2. Been a long time since I bought bottled salad dressing.

                      For emulsifiers I'll use some type of mustard most often. If I don't want any mustard in the dressing a tiny amount of xanthan gum or some lecithin will do the trick

                      1. My favorite quick dressing is the juice of 1 lemon, a few glugs of EVOO, and minced garlic. I put it in a tiny jar with a lid and shake the hell out of it, then put it in the refridgerator for a few hours. When it's ready to serve, I shake it again. Stays nice and emulsified. But FYI, (which someone already mentioned) mustard is a great emulsifier (sp?) and so is jam, if you wanted to make a fruit vinagrette (SO great with field greens, goat cheese and candied walnuts!) Also, if you have a food processor, that works great, because you can slooowly add your oil.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: schrutefarms

                          I have a cabinet of jars that I've accumulated for this purpose

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I made a Thousand Island dressing in a sweet Relish jar yesterday. I didn't have to fight to get the last of the relish out, and the size meant I only made enough for about 3 large salads (I didn't fill the jar, either.)

                            When I'm done, the jar will go into the dishwasher to serve other dressings I have in mind.

                            1. re: mcsheridan

                              I often use up the last of something in a jar by making dressing like BBQ sauce for example. Add a bit of mayo and cider vinegar. Or the mayo jar-I'll make ranch or blue cheese directly into it (my "ranch" is just fresh herbs blended with buttermilk and some mayo)
                              TOTally gonna do this with jam. Why didn't I think of that?

                          2. There are SO many delicious variations for salad dressing too! The blender does make a huge difference.
                            It will save you some serious cash and make you crave salads with your homemade dressings!

                            1. If I don 't need to "drizzle" anything in, I put all my ingredients into a pint ball mason jar and screw on the blender blade. When my mixture is blended, I just screw on a ball cap and ring and I'm not messing up the large blender. I've done this for years and the jar is easy to store in the fridge.

                              1. When I want something quick for dressing, I mix a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a spoonful of jelly. My favorite jelly is homemade blackberry, but cranberry, blueberry, or apple are good too. If I have some fresh herbs, I throw in a few too.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: hippioflov

                                  Hmmmm...blueberry balsamic vinaigrette - I think I like it.

                                  1. re: hippioflov

                                    I've done this and a little jelly or jam can add flavor, sweetness and the pectin helps improve body and texture

                                    I often do add a little sweetener in the form of honey to cut the tartness of the mustard and vinegar to my dressings

                                  2. I've been a recent convert to Big Blue dressing from Litehouse, made with 'extra chunks of artisan cheese'. Usually $2.50 for 13 oz. at the store when it's on sale.

                                    While I certainly appreciate a well-crafted homemade version, it isn't always handy to make a batch from scratch.