I grew up in a little town on the Canadian prairies.
What does that mean?
Well, I ate wonderful home-cooked food; I could stand in our huge garden and eat fresh-picked peas and carrots; I had the freedom to ride my bike out in the country, and read books in trees and play in the woods without fear.
My name isn’t Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie.
My mom would yell to my sister and me,
“Make sure you’re home for supper once it starts to get dark.”
As a kid, I took it all for granted of course.
But along with all that wonderful food, I also ate a lifetime’s share of store-bought, bottled salad dressing.
Insert SCREECHY horror music in your mind.
An assortment of nasty plastic bottle salad dressings made by Kraft.
Thousand Island, Ranch, French Vinaigrette – my mom bought them all.
It may be why I hated salad so much. I hated salad with store-bought salad dressing.
My mom did make 3 different salads I loved.
All of them had homemade dressing. (There’s a clue!)
Her potato salad with cream dressing.
Her spring lettuce salad with oil and white vinegar dressing.
And her summer lettuce salad with a version of the potato salad dressing.
(More on these in another upcoming post!)
During my 20s, I avoided salad unless it was a homemade Caesar salad at my favorite tiny local restaurant. Holy garlic, fresh parmesan and WTF – real croutons??
But at home, alone, I never ventured into the world of salad dressing.
I turned 30 and moved to a city with an amazing Italian market.
Going to that market was an epiphany.
Rows and rows of glorious olive oil and every kind of vinegar known to God.
An entire section was devoted to Parmesan cheese. (No nasty smelling fake cheese from Kraft in a shaker bottle in sight.)
I was totally overwhelmed and curious.
I thought of mom’s homemade oil and vinegar dressing.
And I made a life-changing decision. Trust me. You will too.
It’s one of those little simple things that make life better.
I bought olive oil, some wine vinegars and a hunk of parmesan.
I decided to make my own salad dressing.
It took 5 minutes and I had enough for a week.
It was like a miracle.
I could eat salad and not be a barbarian.
And all these years later, I’m still doing it.
(You should see my stockpile of oils and vinegars now!)
A tip for Simpler Living for Complicated People?
Make your own Damn Salad Dressing.
Good to the Earth. NO PLASTIC.
Good for your body. NO XANTHAN GUM, corn syrup and other crap.
And best of all? It tastes amazing.
The Complicated Simple Vinaigrette
(Serves 4 people or one salad-starved person)
4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice* (about ½ lemon), or champagne vinegar
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk thoroughly. Taste it.
*If you use lemon juice which I do A LOT – use the zest of the lemon half & the juice too.
Really want to take this up a notch? Double the batch, put it into a clean jar you’ve got kicking around and put it in the fridge. It will easily last a week. Just give it a good shake before you use it.
So There. You are no longer a barbarian.