Who Made The Salad?


That question is the first one everyone asks when my family gets together for a big dinner. I don’t mean to brag, but if the answer is me, then everyone bellies up to the bar. If the answer is my Aunt Tildy, everyone backs away.

Now Aunt Tildy is a good cook. Usually. But she uses bottled dressing on the salads she brings. That is so old school.

My mom always made homemade salad dressing so I never tasted bottled dressing until I was old enough to eat at friends’ homes. The first time I had lettuce doused with thick white glop supposedly from a ranch, I thought I would barf.

Another friend’s mom served pink glop in a bottle. Eventually I learned that salad dressing didn’t come from thousands of islands or ranches but from big food manufacturers more interested in the bottom line than in using fresh, natural ingredients like good quality olive oil.

If that’s your idea of salad, please do yourself a favor. Get your self a bottle of good extra virgin olive oil and a bottle of good vinegar.

I was a bit disillusioned when I learned my mom’s homemade dressing had a nasty little secret. It was made with a packet of spices and herbs. She mixed her oil and vinegar with it in a shaker jar that came with the packets. It wasn’t purely homemade, but it was much better than anything else out there.

After I got my first place, Mom gave me one of those jars and a box of those packets. I used her little secret and got rave reviews on my salads and my homemade dressing. When I got “into” olive oil, I started making the dressing with extra virgin olive oil. I got more raves.

I went to Italy on vacation and had an epiphany. No bottled dressings. No pre-mixed oil and vinegar type dressings either. Just a bottle of the greenest extra virgin olive oil and another bottle of the best smelling balsamic vinegar were placed on the table with the salad bowl.

I watched as people drizzled oil over the lettuce and splashed balsamic on top. They used their fork to stir it all around, and then they dug in. I tried it. I’ve got to admit that it was one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.

My family is rather set in their ways. The first time I set the oil, the vinegar, and the salad on the communal table, they stared at me as if I were nuts. So I learned to mix the dressing first. It’s easy.

Go by the taste. I mix equal amounts of oil and balsamic vinegar in a jar. Some people don’t like it quite so vinegary so if you’re one of them then use less vinegar and more oil. One cup of oil to one-half cup vinegar is what most cookbook recipes call for.

Add a good pinch of sea salt. Experiment with herbs if you want by adding 1/4 teaspoon or more to taste. Try crushed rosemary, oregano, basil, or thyme. Minced garlic is great with this. Also if you like red onion, finely mince some and add. Shake well. Pour over your salad and toss. Oh, if you use red wine vinegar, then add a teaspoon of something sweet like honey or raw sugar to cut the tartness.

Guess what? Even Aunt Tildy likes my salads now. Even though she won’t admit it. ;-)

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7 Responses to “Who Made The Salad?”

  1. Annette Downingon 17 Oct 2007 at 5:58 pm


    I need some help finding information regarding extra virgin olive oil in leak-proof packets, resealable if possible, large enough to hold 4 oz. of oil. Do you or do you know of a company that manufactures something similiar to this? I appreciate any information you have available.

    Thank You.
    Annette Downing

  2. Bobon 17 Oct 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Hi Annette,
    Are you looking for just packets that YOU will fill with oil? Or are you looking for packets FILLED with oil? Can you tell me a little more about what you need it for? That might give us some ideas too.

  3. Tnapxoeton 13 Dec 2008 at 10:32 am


  4. Marissaon 23 Jun 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Great article and so true! My other olive oil secrets for salad dressing… Olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and olive oil with Dijon mustard. That’s what we always did in France where there is some of the best Dijon mustard.

  5. body-butteron 25 Oct 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Yes, olive oil is the answer. With salad I like to go all the way and use extra virgin oil. I know what you mean. I have put down my fork when it comes to salad with blue cheese dressing. Just feel a whole lot better.

  6. Mikeon 28 Feb 2011 at 6:29 pm


    My wife using her own seasoning packet to mix with olive oil and red wine vinegar to make an awesome multi-versatile dressing. People are sometimes ignorant to the health benefits of olive oil. It is good fat that your body needs! Great blog!!

  7. […] night I plan to make up a tasty salad with with some homemade dressing after being  inspired by this post.  I will make it with  “Artison” extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar […]

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