Make Your Own Dress(ing)

Start a new habit: dress up your salads with dressings tailor made to your tastes.

By Kristin Belz February 10, 2013


DIY projects vary in difficulty, just as DIY people vary in ambition. Some folks make their own clothing – a dress, for instance. Others make dressing. You don't wear it, but your salad does, and you'll benefit in myriad ways. 

Making your own salad dressing at home is a simple change of habit that is easy and addictive. Once you start concocting your own salad dressing, you’ll find it pointless to ever buy bottled dressing. Say good bye Annie, so long Paul Newman, and cut the Kraft. There’s just no reason to go back to that wasteful habit.

Consider a special salad dressing vessel to help get you inspired. Nothing fancy, not high-tech, just a dressing-suitable jar (11 ounces, with a top that screws off or snaps open for squirting ) complete with six low fat recipes and measurements printed right on it. At the risk of sounding like the script for a late night infomercial, it's: the Salad Dressing Shaker/Maker, from NorPro, an Everett, Washington-based company. 

Of course you can always just reuse an empty jelly or mustard jar, and that's what you should do, to be frugal, green and truly DIY. But the Shaker/Maker is a nice idea, especially as a gift, and as a literal reminder that there are lots of ways to dress a salad. It's the salad equivalent to the classic cocktail glass printed with measurements and ingredients, but without the hangover. 

The easiest, most classic homemade salad dressing is of course simply to drizzle olive oil and vinegar (or lemon juice – i.e., something acidic with some zip to it) over your prepared salad and toss. Add salt and pepper (freshly ground) to taste. But that's just the start.  

The Shaker/Maker bears recipes for Creamy Caesar and Creamy Citrus Ginger (the "cream" comes from non-fat yogurt); Sesame Scallion; Honey Mustard; French Vinaigrette (including parsley, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and a touch of sugar); and Italian Herb.  But why stop there?

Here's an easy recipe (from the now defunct Gourmet magazine) to whisk up in an empty jelly jar that you'd otherwise toss in the big blue recycling bin.

Shallot Vinaigrette

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably French) or safflower oil
salt and pepper to taste 

Whisk together shallot, mustard, and vinegar. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified, and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss salad greens with just enough dressing to coat.

Also try Balsamic Vinegar, Sherry Vinegar, or rice vinegar. Add more and other herbs (tarragon, thyme). Experiment with different oils (good quality extra virgin olive oil is typical, but try walnut oil, or an Asian mix of sesame oil and canola or vegetable oil).

Locally, New Seasons carries the Shaker/Maker. (It's not on late night TV that I know of, but maybe I'm just not watching the right stations). Norpro Webstore also sells it ($7).

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