Cooking

Should You Make or Buy Salad Dressing?

Homemade vs. store-bought fanatics: let's hash this out
Should You Make or Buy Salad Dressing?
Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Growing up, salads typically consisted of a few pieces of iceberg, a cut-up tomato and maybe a little slice of red onion. Bottles of ranch, blue cheese, creamy Dijon, Thousand Island and Parmesan peppercorn took hold of one corner of the kitchen table, and turned those sad bowls of raw vegetables into something far more covetable.

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These days, though, you won’t find any store-bought salad dressings in my fridge—if that makes me a food snob, so be it. Because once you start making your own luxurious dressings sans complicated recipes, you can never go back to bottled.

The idea of making your own blue cheese, ranch or other creamy dressing sounds like more work than peeling the plastic off a bottle of Hidden Valley or Annie’s. But with these tricks, you’ll find that it’s as simple as throwing together a zippy vinaigrette.

 Load Up on the Staples

You're going to need essentials including full-fat sour cream, full- or low-fat plain yogurt, mayonnaise (preferably Hellmann’s), white or apple cider vinegar, garlic or garlic salt, and salt and pepper.

 

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 Stock Your Kitchen with Extra Goodies

Keep items on hand like fresh herbs (parsley, basil, dill, cilantro, thyme), roasted garlic (cut the top off a whole bulb, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast for 35 minutes in a 400-degree oven), alliums (scallions, chives or red onion), cheese (Parmesan, Romano or blue) and mustard (Dijon or whole grain).

 

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 Get to Work

Mix together ¼ cup of sour cream, ¼ cup of yogurt and ⅛ cup of mayo, then season with salt and pepper. This is your creamy base. From here, pick your garlic strategy: a whole clove, pressed, will add a certain amount of bite, whereas mashed roasted garlic or a generous sprinkle of garlic salt will produce a dressing that’s less pungent. Mix in about a teaspoon of vinegar—I usually do a capful—to taste. Drizzle in a couple of drops of warm water to further thin out the dressing, if that’s what you’re looking for.

 

Stacey Lastoe is a writer, editor, runner and an ambitious cook and eater. Say hi (or share a recipe idea) on Twitter at @stacespeaks.

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