I have yet to find a truly healthy store-bought bottled salad dressing, even among the organic choices. The main problem lies with the type of oil that is used. There are very few olive oil dressings on the market, and even those are a combination of olive oil and some other vegetable oil, such as soybean or canola. I don’t recommend the use of vegetable oils due to the damage that they incur during the refining process. Olive oil, on the other hand, is a healthy and delicious choice, especially if you choose extra virgin. But even if you don’t like the fruity taste of extra virgin olive oil, the milder flavored “originale” or “classico” olive oils from the second pressing are still a better choice than highly refined and damaged vegetable oils.
That said, when you make your own at home, you can control the quality of ingredients that you use. In addition to damaged oils, commercial salad dressings are usually loaded with ingredients like MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, too much sodium, additives and preservatives. None of those ingredients are necessary to produce a delicious ad healthy dressing that you can feel good about eating.
The most basic thing you need to know in order to make foolproof dressing is the ratio of oil to vinegar, which is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. With this ratio, you can make a little or a lot. You don’t need a fancy bottle, as anything with a tight fitting lid will work. By varying the type of vinegar/acid, and the seasonings that you add, you can create dozens of variations. Just start with the basic recipe below, and then get creative.
1 cup olive oil of your choice
1/3 cup vinegar or acid of your choice (balsamic, wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice)
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Garlic, fresh, minced, or powder
- Dijon mustard
- Chives or shallots
- Asian seasonings (soy sauce, ginger, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds)
- Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc)
- Greek seasonings (oregano, garlic, thyme, basil, rosemary)
- Xylitol, Stevia, or honey for sweetness
- Poppy seeds
- Finely chopped olives
- Parmesan cheese
- Blue cheese
Ingredients blend and flavors meld best at room temperature.