My Salad Dressing Renaissance

I used to be a salad dressing junkie. In my refrigerator at any given time, you could find at least 7 different varieties. In the beginning, everything was a creamy (read calorie, dye and preservative loaded) sort.  As I’ve gotten older, discovered my love for cooking and drastically changed my diet -not to mention by shopping habits- I’ve discovered how much I do still love salad dressing. However with one big change-I like it light, I like it home made, if present at all. GASP! Yes, if at all.

Probably the biggest game changer in my dressing renaissance was this recipe by Emeril Lagasse, Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Oi. It seriously changed my life…concerning salads. Then, I recently read Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine (PSST!!! Amazon has it for $4.99 on your Kindle right NOW-go and buy it!), and how she always makes her own dressing. After playing with a few of her recipes and then understanding the basics, I started to have a lot of fun. Here in town, we have a shop that specializes in flavored Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars. I love to play with the flavors, to mix and create all sorts of bright and vibrant concoctions!

Thanks to Pinterest, a host of DIY dressing recipes are at all of our fingertips in any given moment. I am now down to 2 bottles of salad dressing in my home. One for my husband (who refuses to change, though I’ve tried-and will continue to try to convince him otherwise) and one for my children (cursed Ranch dressing!). I’m still on my journey with dressing salads. And I’ve pinned about a dozen recipes for making the recipes the men in my house cling to so deeply so I can at least give them the “real” thing.

In the mean time, I just found this recipe for a lovely and simple balsamic. I’ll post the recipe because YOU MUST MAKE IT! I don’t like maple syrup always and I read in the comments that another reader used honey. So that is what I went with (and it’s reflected in the recipe I’ve posted below). This dressing is so good!

If you have never tried making your own dressing, I want you to know how easy it is with just a few simple ingredients. For the basics a good list of things to have on hand would be:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • A good balsamic vinegar (I love my Costco variety and I also play around with the specialty varieties from the shop I linked above)
  • Lemon
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Honey
  • Garlic
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Apple juice/Orange juice

These are just a few things that I’m fairly certain people have in their pantry at any given moment. And they promise to brighten and liven up those greens in no time! Try your hand at this simple recipe I’ve posted below. Then branch out! Try putting marinated artichoke hearts, capers, lemon juice and salt and pepper on a salad with some thinly sliced red onion. That’s it! No dressing. Top it with some fresh Parmesan cheese even! Whatever you do, keep trying and have fun with it.  Happy creating!

Better Than Bottled Balsamic Vinaigrette

The easiest and most delicious homemade dressing I have ever made!

Adapted from Dreena Burton’s Eat Drink & Be Vegan ‘Back-to-Basics’ dressing.


  • 2.5 tablespoons balsamic, white, or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or regular mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • (1/2 minced clove of garlic – optional)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Toss all ingredients into a bowl and whisk! Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

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