I will openly say that there are few bottled salad dressings that I like. The whole category of bottled salad dressings happens to be a pet peeve. Most are too sweet and just not well balanced. The ones I do like are far too expensive and are sold in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle. So why bother buying them?
Making a vinaigrette is not that hard and it’s far cheaper than store-bought. That said, there is a place for store-bought dressings, mostly in marinades: My father swears by Newsman’s Own Balsamic marinated chicken, and Annie’s Shitake dressing is really good on pork. Cindy’s Kitchen All Natural Dressings are fantastic but expensive. A recent refrigerated newcomer is Tessamae’s from Maryland, is getting all sorts of shelf space at Whole Foods.
In any event, I will share some of my most loved vinaigrettes over the next few months. Make these and you will not want to buy pre-made dressing again. If we haven’t given you enough reasons to buy an immersion blender, they are also great for making vinaigrettes like this!
1 medium sized beet (yellow beets work well too), diced
1 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (use white wine, or white balsamic vinegar if using yellow beets)
1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed is best
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced shallots (or 1 small clove of garlic)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the first 3 ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup (watch the pan carefully after about 10 minutes.) Allow to cool.
Add the remaining ingredients and then with the immersion blender, puree. This dressing is very good at room temperature but will last in the refrigerator for a week. It’s wonderful on mache, arugala and baby mixed greens.
The salad pictured was made with mache, cucumbers, shaved fennel, some left over chicken meat and feta cheese. It was restaurant-quality: crunchy, salty, balanced and brightly flavored!