Essential Recipe: Italian Salad Dressing

Essential Recipe: Italian Salad Dressing

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Nealey Dozier
Nov 13, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Italian Salad Dressing

Makes 1 1/2 cups (using 2 to 4 tablespoons per salad)

1 cup neutral salad oil, such as canola (see Recipe Note)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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.

Recipe Notes:

  • 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.
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