A friend of mine asked me for my salad dressing recipe recently. The truth is, there isn’t one. I’ve never once thought about tablespoons or teaspoons when making salad dressing—I just add the ingredients, taste, adjust, and eat.
If pasta sauce is the hand-me-down of Italian families, then salad dressing is the hand-me-down in mine. I watched my parents make salad dressing hundreds of times over the years, and then at some point, I started helping and learning.
It goes something like this:
- good (or at least decent) quality olive oil
- fresh lemon juice (must be fresh! bottled is decent but nowhere near as good.)
- freshly pressed garlic (DO NOT USE THE STUFF THAT COMES FROM A JAR)
- salt (we prefer kosher)
- freshly ground pepper
Those are the basics. The ratio of olive oil to lemon juice is about 2:1. We use a minimum of 2 garlic cloves in each batch.
- Balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice. To this I’ll often add some Dijon mustard and honey. Then extra pepper. I love pepper! This variation is dark and savory. Yummy in the winter.
- Rice vinegar instead of lemon juice. Add in soy sauce, reduce salt, and add some sesame oil for an Asian vinaigrette. You could even add some peanut butter or peanut oil instead of some of the olive oil.
My parents tend to be purists and just go with the original recipe, except they also have a little herb pot, so we often throw in a few sprigs of fresh thyme. To me, this is the taste of a delicious spring salad, usually arugula with shaved Parmesan and some fresh blueberries. Bright and delicious.
(And to all you garlic-phobics out there: Stop it right now. Garlic is amazing. Stop trying to resist and just accept it.)