Skip the Store-Bought Dressings – Make Your Own!

These days, there are entire sections of grocery stores devoted to salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. You could get lost just in the Caesar dressing section alone, not to mention the 20+ other flavors, the BBQ sauces, and the marinades. Some stores even have two sections — one refrigerated and one in the aisles. Why we think we need this many choices is beyond me, but more to the point, what’s actually in these concoctions might surprise you.

Salad dressing aisle

As I’ve noted in my post, Not-so-healthy Health Claims, most people look at what’s on the front of the bottle to make their choice. Is it the flavor I want? Is it my favorite brand? Is it low-fat? After all, don’t people often choose salad because they think it’s the healthy choice? True, the raw vegetables are healthy, but most low-fat salad dressings replace the fat with sugar in the form of corn syrup, and most full-fat versions use low-quality industrial oils that are likely rancid by the time they hit your shopping cart.

Question: How healthy is a salad covered in GMO corn syrup and refined, rancid vegetable oils?

Answer: Not.

Making salad dressings (or marinades) at home isn’t complicated.

Using ingredients that are already in your kitchen you can create a wide range of dressings to accompany nearly any salad. When you want a vinaigrette for example, what are you looking for? Oil, vinegar, and something extra? Why would you pay a premium for a corporation to bottle inferior versions of ingredients that are already in your kitchen? Is it because of that something extra?

True, balsamic vinaigrettes at the store are often uniform in color and texture, and oil and vinegar shaken in a bottle at home don’t do the same thing.

Here’s the secret: add an emulsifier. Mustard or an egg yolk (from a very good egg!) will do the trick.

Easy as that, so here’s your recipe for this week:

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

(enough for 4 dinner salads):

  • About 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVO) (can add another if you prefer at the end, it’s all about preference!)
  • About 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Either 1 tbs dijon mustard OR 1 very high-quality egg yolk
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper

Whisk together until uniform, and toss into salad. Done!

When you start making your own dressings, the possibilities are endless. I’ve just shared with you the simplest formula ever, but you can always change up the vinegars, leave them out and substitute a citrus, use avocado oil instead of EVO, change up the flavor of mustard, add in dried herbs … you see where I’m going with this — there’s no need to buy salad dressing. Everything you need is already at your fingertips.

Now go home and give it a try! Let me know what you come up with!

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