The House Dressing
When I was in college, I would have cook-offs of sorts with a good friend of mine. The only problem being that we were eating in the dining hall at the time where there was very little to actually cook. So we took our competitive spirit to the one section we had control over: Salad Dressing.
There was always a big section of vinegars and oils and mustards and honeys at the salad bar and we could mix up countless varieties every day. The challenge was always the same: Find a recipe that beat yesterday’s recipe and that you would want to eat forever.
I’ve sort of carried on this competition with myself after college. I make different salad dressings a few times a week. The problem is that sometimes they suck. One night after a particularly failed dressing, Betsy opened up her recipe box (by the way Betsy having a recipe box is like me having a McDonald’s Gift Card – not gonna use it). Anyway, she opened it up and pulled out a plain white card. “Try this tomorrow,” she said.
This was the card:
The recipe looks standard enough. I got some further insight from my future mother-in-law on what kind of oil to use as “oil” is just a little broad given the selection available these days.
Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing
Yield: 1 cup.
1/2 Cup canola oil, or other very neutral oil. Olive oil is a no-no.
1/4 Cup Tarragon vinegar (no substitutions people. It's in your vinegar section. Find it!)
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon pepper, freshly ground is best
1/2 Teaspoon Tabasco, I substituted Cholula and received no complaints
1) Add all your ingredients to a bowl or salad dressing container in the order I listed them above starting with the oil and vinegar.
2) Shake or whisk!
Now that you have the recipe there isn’t really much to know. Here’s a visual for ya:
The most important ingredient, in my opinion, is the tarragon vinegar. If you can’t find it, you can’t make this dressing. Sorry. It’s lighter than a balsamic definitely and has a nice tangy flavor that goes great with veggies.
It’s not more expensive than any other vinegar and a bottle of it will last awhile.
To make the dressing, just add all your ingredients to a bowl or salad dressing container in the order I listed them above. That means starting with the oil and vinegar!
I like to give my oil and vinegar a good shake (or a good whisking) to make sure they are emulsified well before adding the other ingredients.
As far as the hot sauce goes, I’ve only used Tabasco and Cholula. You might be able to substitute others, but those are the only two I’ll vouch for!
Once you shake everything together, it turns this lovely burnt orange color. It’s tastes a bit strong on it’s own, but man is it good on a salad.
Betsy and I have a small salad most nights of the week and so I keep bags of chopped veggies on hand. It makes it easy to throw together a quick salad and drizzle on some dressing.
Sometimes Betsy complains that I over-dress the salad, but then I counter with a solid: “Suck it up. I just made you dinner.”
We’ve been using this dressing, her Grandma’s recipe, for our house dressing for a little over a month now. I’ve had no desire to go back to my salad-dressing-a-day ways. This one is flavorful, but not overpowering. It’s goes well with a variety of veggies and greens. It’s incredibly easy to make and keeps for a long time in the fridge.
What more could you ask for in a dressing?
If you’re sick of storebought dressing (who isn’t) and can’t seem to find a homemade one that treats you right, give this guy a shot.