Monday, May 16, 2016

Make a Famous Salad Dressing

Joe Marzetti introduced Americans to his now-famous dressings (from his native Italy) when he
opened his Columbus, Ohio, restaurant in 1896.

Richard Hellman, who owned a deli in New York City and had won numerous culinary awards, began bottling and selling his mayonnaise in 1912, first in wooden containers, then in glass jars. The
Hellman's Real Mayonnaise that we use today is basically the same recipe Hellman originated.

Caesar Cardini is credited with inventing Caesar salad in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico (although there are
those who believe it was more likely invented by Giancomo Junia, an Italian chef in Chicago, around

Ranch dressing - arguably the most popular on the market today - can be traced back to the Hidden Valley Guest Ranch near Santa Barbara, California. The owners began serving the dressing in the 1950s. Guests liked it so much that Hidden Valley began producing its instant, dry mix.

Thousand Island dressing, traditionally made from diced green olives, peppers, pickles, onions and hard-boiled eggs in a mayonnaise and chili-sauce base, dates to the early 1900s. Although often credited to a chef at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel, actress May Irwin actually brought the recipe to the chef there from George and Sophia LaLonde's fishing resort in Clayton, New York.

Green Goddess, made from mayonnaise, anchovies, tarragon vinegar, parsley, scallions, garlic and spices, originated at San Francisco's Palace Hotel, where George Arliss stayed while performing the play The Green Goddess.

I always try the “house’ dressing when I go to a restaurant.  I want to know what the local chef or cook has made to dress his or her salads.  Usually a vinaigrette with a special combination of herbs and a certain acid like a flavored vinegar or a local balsamic I have never been disappointed ordering house dressing.  I think it was this virtually endless array of possibilities that first got me interested in making herb mixes. My first two blends were Dill Dip and Italian Dressing – my own version of a house vinaigrette. Since that time I have developed 11 more dressings, including my own RanchBlends and a Lemon Chive Combo that can be made into three different dressings.

Some recipes for dressing cannot be easily made into a mix however, so I thought I would share a couple of those recipes with you today.

The key to blending your own world famous dressing is to use the freshest ingredients possible.  Choose freshly squeezed lemon juice over bottled and try fresh herbs over dried. The spring cuttings from the herb garden are the sweetest and most wonderful for making and herbal dressing. Choose your vinegar based on the kind of dressing you're making: red wine, champagne, rice, white wine and apple cider vinegars all have excellent flavor. Avoid using a plain white vinegar because its flavor is sharp and severe, but if you have a white vinegar infusedwith herbs (LINK) this is a perfect time to use it.  Use a light vegetable oil, like sunflower or a canola blend, or a good-quality olive oil. Typically, dressing recipes call for two to three times the amount of oil as the amount of vinegar. I like less oil, especially if using a flavored vinegar, such as a raspberry or tarragon. Experiment to suit your taste.

Dressing in a Hurry
Fast enough to put together even after dinner guests have arrived, this is great on any combination of greens.

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 sprigs fresh, chopped, stems discarded
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley or 2 sprigs fresh, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried dill or 2 sprigs fresh, chopped fine (no stems)
1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, honey and mustard in a bowl until blended. Slowly pour in oil, whisking constantly. Blend in the herbs and garlic. Makes 3/4 cup.

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing

2 cups buttermilk (is best, but if you do not have it you can use 2 cups milk less 2 Tbls with either 2 Tbls white vinegar or 3 1/2  teaspoons cream of tartar)
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sprig fresh parsley, diced
5 to 10 strands of chives, sliced thin
2 green onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in blender and pulse blend for a few pulses. Chill before using. You can toss this with any salad.  Especially good with an abundance of vegetables. Makes 2 cups.

If you want more information on blending herb dressings and making salads they check out the book by Jim Long “The Best Dressed Salad” (Long Creek Herbs, 2006). Jim is an herb grower and lecturer who has been around longer than me and he has much information to share.


  1. that sounds like an awesome idea. the herbs in the garden out back are really starting to boom.

  2. These sound delicious! Thank you for sharing.


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