Make It Yourself: Homemade Salad Dressing, 3 Ways

Thrifty Travel Mama - Salad Dressing, 3 WaysSpring is officially here!  I sure hope it looks more like spring from your window than it does outside mine.  At least there is no snow.. today.

With the promise of sunnier days and warmer weather, it’s high time to start thinking about adding hearty dinner salads to your meal planning rotation.  We eat salad a LOT in our house, perhaps more than Doc Sci would like, because I really do have a soft spot in my heart for the green stuff.

When we first moved to Germany, the only prepared dressing I could find at the neighborhood grocery store was white, thick, and creamy.  I must admit, I’m not really a ranch dressing kind of girl, but this stuff couldn’t even be compared to Hidden Valley.

It took me a while to figure out that the only way I was going to have a vinaigrette dressing up my hearts of romaine was to make it myself.  Sure, the discounters sell packets of salad dressing seasoning destined to be mixed by the consumer with oil, water, and vinegar, but they taste terrible.   Regular ol’ oil and vinegar was better than that.

And, so I started simply, with olive oil and balsamic which are both good and cheap here in Germany thanks to our close proximity to Italy.  I worked my way through a dozen or so variations, and I have four favorite salad dressing recipes.  I’m giving you three below; you can find the fourth here.Thrifty Travel Mama - Salad Dressing, 3 WaysBalsamic vinaigrette is the most versatile.  It’s extremely simple to make, and it goes with almost any salad.  I can’t think of any salad it doesn’t go with, but I’m willing to concede the remote possibility.

When I was pregnant last summer with Big Foot, I got the idea of making a Costco-sized bottle of the stuff to last us through the newborn days.  Pure genius, I tell ya.  I haven’t gone back to making a small batch since.

A few things you may notice about these recipes…

First, all of my salad dressings are heavy on the vinegar.  If you’d rather hold the sour stuff, just change the ratio of oil and vinegar to 2:1 or 3:1.

Second, all three incorporate strong flavors of raw onion or raw garlic.  Don’t be shy about adding them to salad dressing!

The key to mellowing out the bite is to age the dressing.  Toss together the ingredients in a screw-top bottle or jar, and leave them a week or more in the refrigerator, shaking at least once daily, before using them on your salad.Thrifty Travel Mama - Salad Dressing, 3 Ways

Blast of Balsamic Vinaigrette
adapted from The Food Network

12 cloves garlic
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 c extra virgin olive oil

Finely mince the cloves of garlic with a knife or garlic press.  Put the minced garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bottle (I use an empty 750mL olive oil bottle with the spout removed).  Carefully pour in the vinegar and oil.  If you prefer a 2:1 oil to vinegar ratio, pour in the vinegar first and eyeball it.  Seal and shake vigorously to combine.  Store in the refrigerator, and age at least one week before serving.

Goes best with: anything, but especially mixed greens, spinach, and salads containing hard cheeses such as Parmesan or soft cheeses such as blue cheese or feta.

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
adapted from Once Upon a Chef

3 Tbl honey
2 Tbl Dijon mustard
4 Tbl red wine vinegar
1 1/2 T finely minced shallots
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbl olive oil (or sunflower oil)

Add all ingredients to a screw-top jar.  Seal and shake vigorously to combine.  Store in the refrigerator and age at least three days before serving.

Goes best with: heartier leaves such as romaine and bitter greens such as radicchio.  Excellent as a topping for a dinner salad with chicken or a chef’s salad with ham and hard boiled egg.

Creamy Italian Salad Dressing
adapted from Marie’s RecipeZaar Collection

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbl red wine vinegar
3 Tbl sour cream or low-fat yogurt
3 Tbl grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a screw-top jar.  Seal and shake vigorously to combine.  Store in the refrigerator and age at least one week before serving.

Goes best with: heartier leaves such as romaine or spinach.  Excellent as an accompaniment to salads with pasta or pasta salads.

So, which one’s your favorite?

Signature-Marigold

4 thoughts on “Make It Yourself: Homemade Salad Dressing, 3 Ways

  1. I make my own salad dressings too and am pleased to see that variations of what I do are on here – plus some really good ideas! I am with you on the vinegar heavy dressings – it’s healthier and more flavorful! WIN!

  2. Pingback: Snapshot: Antwerpen with Kids | Thrifty Travel Mama

  3. Pingback: Apple Madness! A Recipe Round Up to Whittle Your Stash | Thrifty Travel Mama

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