Bottled Italian salad dressing and I go way back. So much so that I actually named my personal blog, Dixie Caviar, after a dish using the zesty store-bought blend. I am still quite attached to that recipe (and yes, I still use the bottle), but for all other purposes, this from-scratch version will blow all other competition out of the water.
So what makes this Italian dressing so good? A mix of red and white white vinegars supply plenty of zing, while shallots, minced garlic, and red pepper add the zip. Dijon adds a tanginess and also helps thicken things up, and a hint of honey balances things out. I prefer a neutral oil in this as opposed to olive oil, which can have tendency to overwhelm the other flavors. And while some folks might not prefer dried herbs, I find they are crucial to getting the desired flavor I want to achieve. A good shake in a tightly sealed jar (or a whiz in the blender) emulsifies the ingredients, yielding a creamy, dreamy Italian vinaigrette.
Don't just keep this zesty dressing around for your side salads, though. It also makes a great marinade for fish and chicken, or it can be a delicious dunk for summer veggies.
Italian Salad Dressing
Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. (I love this shaker.) Shake vigorously until the mixture is thickened and well-combined. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.
Taste the dressing using a lettuce leaf and adjust seasonings. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
- Italian dressing with olive oil: Olive oil can be substituted for the neutral oil in this dressing, although I find that olive oil can have tendency to overwhelm the other flavors.
- Making more or less dressing: This dressing makes enough for several dinner salads over the course of a week or so. To make more for larger salads or less for a single salad, just scale the ingredients to make the amount you need.