Making salad dressing is not only easy, but it will save you a lot of money too. When I look back to the stuff I used to eat before I knew better I get disgusted. Not only because now I know what the ingredients are in the bottled stuff, but because of how gross they taste. Kraft lite balsamic dressing is an example of what I used to buy. Of course it was lite (reduced fat and calories) because I was scared of fat & counting calories like a typical American. Have you seen the ingredients in this stuff?
Water, and/or, Vinegar Balsamic (Water, Vinegar Wine, Grapes Juice), Vinegar, Sugar, Olive Oil Extra Virgin, Salt, Garlic Dried, Contains less than 22% of, Spices, Xanthan Gum, Caramel Color, Mustard Flour, Polysorbate 60, Niacin Vitamin B3, Flavors Natural, Oleoresin Paprika.
Xanthan Gum– We learned what all these thickeners were in my last ice cream recipe post. I outlined all the ingredients in Breyers ice cream and told you what they were. Sketchy to say the least so it’s better to make your own. Or buy Haagan-Dazs. Their vanilla ice cream has 5 ingredients: cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla.
Caramel Color-artificial food color, red flag, and linked to cancer according to this CBS News article. It’s the coloring used to make cola brown. If you look at my picture you will see that the balsamic vinegar in the recipe makes it brown. So why would Kraft need for it to be browner? Oh yeah because you will see that their balsamic vinegar contains grape juice. I think it’s safe to say we are not getting high-quality balsamic vinegar in this product.
Polysorbate 60-a food additive used as an emulsifier. This prevents the dressing from separating. If you’ve ever made your own dressing you know how hard it is to get the oil and vinegar to mix. Since they don’t, you need an emulsifier to force them to mix.
Flavors Natural- as we learned from my last post, this can mean anything from bugs to beaver’s butts.
Oleoresin Paprika- color additive. At first glance I thought this was the spice paprika used for flavor, but according to FDA it’s actually a color. Joy.
Luckily for me I work in a middle school so I have access to our cafeteria. Not like I eat there (ever) but it’s pretty convenient to be able to run in and grab a coffee, some dressing, a fork or whatever it is that I need. And since eating salad dry is not something that I just don’t do (gross), I sucked it up a few times and ate school dressing. I could actually taste the chemicals; the aftertaste was awful. Since then I’ve smartened up and I now keep a small bottle of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, & Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute at my desk. If you haven’t heard of this spice you have to try it! It’s a blend of: onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary, cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel, tomato, lemon juice and lemon oil; it costs about $2 a bottle. All I do is drizzle the EVOO and balsamic vinegar on my salad then put about 5 shakes of the 21 Seasoning Salute on top and mix; homemade, healthy, and delicious dressing made in less than 10 seconds. Cheaper, healthier, and it tastes better than the processed stuff from the store.
Sometimes I like to change it up a bit because I get bored eating the same thing all the time. I’ve made my homemade ranch dressing, & honey mustard (yellow mustard, paleo mayo, honey), and an avocado dressing too. But sometimes I get inspired to get a little creative, especially when my garden is overflowing with gorgeous basil. Usually all my basil is reserved for stocking my big chest freezer with pesto. But I just have so much this year that I needed another recipe. I decided to make a salad dressing that I could freeze in small amounts and have for my lunches in the school year. This batch makes about 32 ounces. I keep some in the fridge to use that week and the rest I freeze in ice-cube trays. I’ll pop 2 ice cubes of dressing into a small container and by the time noon comes around and it’s time for lunch, my dressing is defrosted and ready to go. Just be aware that storing this dressing in the refrigerator will cause it to thicken. It’s not spoiled; it’s just the oil solidifying. Sometimes I heat it in the microwave for 5 or 10 seconds so it liquefies.
- ½ large Vidalia onion
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp honey (optional-omit for nutrition challenges)
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tightly packed cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 ½ cup EVOO
- Place the onion in a food processor and blend until pureed.
- Scrape down sides to be sure all the onion is pureed.
- Add the Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, and honey and mix.
- With processor running, use the drip spout to add the balsamic vinegar.
- Add basil to mixture and process again.
- Scrape down sides to incorporate all the basil.
- Using the drip spout again, add EVOO until fully mixed.
- Can be frozen for future use. I use ice-cube trays and store in a zipper freezer bag.