I was in Whole Foods the other day to bulk up on my spelt supply (since flour from their bulk bins are lots fresher than the packaged stuff on the shelves) and on my way in I was stopped by someone giving free samples in the entryway.
I didn’t really want to stop, because we all know that the real price of those “free samples” is being guilted into buying the thing afterwards. There’s this unspoken, “Hey, I just gave you free food and you’re NOT going to buy my product?! What kind of rude ingrate are you, anyway?” thing that happens. But he was very persistent about his invitation to sample his wares, in a way that made me feel rude to just sweep by.
“You have to try some of this salad dressing!” he said. “It’s personally made and bottled by my family with all natural ingredients. What kind do you want to taste?”
He had little cups with a few pieces of spinach in each one, and different dressings on top.
“Well,” I said, “it depends on what’s in it.” I thought I was being clever, here, because I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be able to eat what was in the dressing. Sure out.
“Just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, dry mustard, and salt!” He answered. Drat!
So I tasted it, and it was good!
I told him so. “Mmm, good!”
He grinned, sensing a sale. “I have a goal to beat the world record for most salad dressing sales in one day, and I just know you’re going to help me out!”
“There’s a record for the most salad dressing sales in one day?”
“There’s a record for everything.”
“So, what kind do you want? They’re only $6.50 each! All natural, and supporting a family business!”
“Ah, em…” I hedged. “I’ll, ah, think about it and come back.”
His face fell and every trace of affable humor disappeared. He looked pretty ticked off, honestly. Granted, his assumption that I wasn’t actually going to return was right, but still. You need to retain your salesman mask, man. Come on, now.
I felt bad. (Because I have this whole problem where I want people around me to feel good about everything, which is basically an impossible thing to do.) But there was NO WAY I was going to pay $6.50 for that dressing! I mean, oil, vinegar, lemon, mustard, and salt? Do you know how CHEAP that is?
His sales pitch of “see how simple this is” actually is only proof for how simple it is to make it yourself.
What’s that? You don’t think it’s easy to make dressing? Let me tell you a little story.
Last spring I chaperoned a field trip with my son’s class to Snipes, the farm near us. After they took a tour, the kids picked lettuce and then stuck a bunch of stuff in a blender to make dressing.
Did you catch that? A crowd of 9 year olds stuck a bunch of stuff in a blender and made dressing. See?! So, you now have no excuses.
And, they all loved it. I heard kids left and right saying, “Can I have more?” and “This is the best salad ever!” So I took a picture of the recipe that was hanging on the wall.
Anyone can do this. You literally take all that stuff, stick it in a blender, and blend away until it’s nice and creamy. That’s it.
I pretty much stick to the recipe. For the herbs, I just put in whatever sounds good that I have on hand fresh. Sometimes I don’t put any in at all. Sometimes I add lemon juice. You pretty much just start with the basic ingredients, taste, and go from there. I’ll also add a little water to thin it out a little, and that seems to help it not get so solid (and makes it more pourable) after being in the fridge.
But, it’s seriously simple, and seriously yummy. If you’ve been looking for a basic salad dressing that doesn’t have all the sugars and non-food ingredients of store bought, this is it!
Note: I usually double or triple this recipe so that I have it for a while. A single recipe will serve 4-6 people, but not leave any left over.
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (the kind from the deli section, not the stuff on the shelf!)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp water (omit if using lemon juice)
- Optional: 1 tsp fresh herbs (whatever you have on hand)
- Optional: 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- Optional: Juice of a lemon (if you have it on hand)
- Take all the ingredients, put them in a blender, and blend until they're nice and creamy. Unless you have a super-high-powered blender, mince the garlic first or it won't chop up right. That's it. You can experiment with different vinegars (red wine, apple cider, etc.), different kinds of herbs, things like mustard, or whatever else sounds interesting to you.