Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We Make Our Own Damn Salad Dressing!

One of the seven deadly sins (well maybe not deadly, but at least very shameful) of frugal grocery shopping is buying salad dressing. It’s over priced and contains god-knows-what extra chemicals to preserve it.

It’s so ridiculously easy to make your own and if you’ve done all the work of composing your own salad (perhaps even with some of you own fresh garden veggies) wouldn’t it be a shame to put store bought dressing on it? (And please don’t tell me you use the bagged premixed salad, I might cry a little.)

We usually use a simple oil and vinegar (olive and balsamic respectively) dressing which mom puts in a bottle to be shaken right before serving. The best ratio of oil to vinegar is the cause of much contentious debate in our house. I, being a fan of all things sour, favor equal parts oil and vinegar but mom insists you have at least three parts oil to one part vinegar.

Tonight we were having a dim sum themed dinner (o.k. I’ll admit…we were eating frozen dumplings from the local Chinese market) so we decided to make an Asian themed salad. For the veggies we had local organic (oo-la-la) lettuce, turnips, radishes, scallions and a cucumber from our garden. I toasted some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top and for the dressing we used approximately:

-one part sesame oil (or one tablespoon)
-two parts peanut oil (two tablespoons)
-one part rice vinegar (one tablespoon)
-one third part soy sauce (one teaspoon)

I also like to include a sprinkle of sea salt in salad (because dad always insists on salting his salad no matter what) and I find sea salt to be much more pleasant and interesting then regular salt. Sea salt may not sound very frugal but there are some things that really are worth the extra expense. If you haven’t already do a taste comparison between iodized salt and sea salt and you’ll see what I mean. And if you don’t…well then we can just argue about it.

And if the appeal of having bottled salad dressing on hand it too much for you to resist, keep in mind that you can make a big enough batch to last you for a week and keep it in the fridge. Let’s put Paul Newman out of business! (Just kidding Paul.)


  1. what if one likes creamy dressings. can you make those at home? and blue cheese dressing?

  2. yes but not if one's mother is lactose intolerant.

  3. I use balsamic and sea salt for dressing too, but I skip the oil altogether.

  4. good choice. now if only we could make our own sea salt it would be very frugal. keep checking back because i may have to try that, and i'm sure the resulting sickness from the dirty bay water will also be interesting.

  5. I learned how to make a proper salad, including the dressing, from "Ma", my first mother-in-law. She always used a wooden salad bowl, and the assembly went something like this: pour in a little olive oil, a little red wine vinegar, fresh ground black pepper, sea salt, chopped shallots, fresh tarragon, and whisk together. Then, add the fresh greens and other salad vegetables, and toss when ready to serve! Salad was always served at the end of the meal! Ma was the best cook I've ever known (right up there with my own Mom and brothers).