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Salad Dressings — homemade or store-bought?

Fresh Beet Basil and Feta SaladSesame Chicken Caesar

Both!  We like homemade and a few bottled dressings. Homemade salad dressings are easy to make, while store-bought can be embellished with simple additions like lemon peel or toasted sesame oil. Yes, there’s a daunting selection of bottled dressings, and you have to try many ($$) to find the flavor you like that is not too high in fat or sodium.

We’ve posted lots of salad recipes on Get Cooking Simply because they’re good-for-you, have almost unlimited ingredient options, are versatile as entrees or sides, and are simple!  So we have some options for you. First, scroll your curser over the photos above to see some of our favorite salads using homemade and store-bought dressings, then click to see the recipe.  For bottled dressings, we recommend our favorite creamy Johnny’s Great Caesar!  in Rosie’s Sesame Chicken Caesar Salad  (pictured above, top row center).  And for homemade, try Rita’s vinaigrette below. Feeling lazy?  We like Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar.

Print This Recipe
Rita’s Everyday Vinaigrette *
Makes 1-2/3 cups
1          cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3     cup Holland House red wine vinegar (5% acidity) *
2          tsp. Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1          tsp. brown sugar
1/2      tsp. kosher salt
1/4      tsp. black pepper
1          small clove garlic, crushed

Combine ingredients; whisk to blend. Use with tossed green salads, pasta salads, vegetable salads.
(Use 1/2 cup vinegar if you prefer less tangy dressings.) 

* Interestingly, salad dressing recipes rarely mention vinegar acidity even though brands vary significantly. Too tart, and the dressing overwhelms your salad; too mild and the salad is boring. Rita prefers dressings on the tangy side, Rosie likes them less vinegary. Our compromise:  Mild Holland House 5% acidity wine vinegar—which also has nice subtle wine flavors—makes lighter dressings without needing extra oil to counter-balance the acidity.

Cooking Light
magazine recommends Holland House Red Wine vinegar as their favorite “pantry staple” wine vinegar:  “A very low acidity level, brilliant ruby-red color, and mild flavor make this selection great to have on hand for everyday cooking or simple vinaigrettes. Its mellow taste means that even if you increase the ratio of vinegar to oil, you won’t be overwhelmed by sourness.”

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  1. Posted October 8, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Rita’s Everyday Vinaigrette looks wonderful! I typically add a pinch of sugar to mine, but hadn’t thought of using brown sugar. This sounds perfect for autumn salads with squash. And you’re right, there is a huge range of acidity in vinegars. My eyes were really opened up on that at the vinegar tasting you led, Rita!

  2. Posted October 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    This is fascinating stuff about the acidity of vinegar. I am always correcting my salad dressings because I don’t like them too tart. Thanks. Will look for Holland House in my local supermarket.

    • Posted October 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      It would be helpful if more vinaigrette recipes specified vinegar acidity. But now you know!

  3. Joyce Beattie
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Why add sugar? I like the freshness of vinaigrette without the addition, and always wonder why recipes include it

    • Posted October 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Good question Joyce. I use 1 teaspoon or less brown sugar to offset the tart vinegar. You can skip it of course. Most important is the vinegar acidity. There’s a big difference between 5% and 6 and 7% acidity.

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