This easy, all-purpose dressing is a family favorite and regular staple in our fridge. Many years ago my mom created this recipe for an Italian restaurant that she managed. It was so popular there that guests often bought extra salad dressing to take home. I've tweaked the recipe slightly and scaled it down for use in a home kitchen.
It's easy. In under 5 minutes you can whip up a quick batch of this in a blender or small food processor; or, you can simply use a bowl and a whisk.
It emulsifies. This dressing has ingredients (mustard, mayo, and garlic) that make it emulsify well, so it will remain mixed for several hours without the need for frequent shaking and stirring. That makes it a great "self-serve" dressing for buffets and tables. If it separates into layers after fridge storage, simply give it a vigorous shake and it will again remain emulsified for serving. (You can read more about how emulsions work at Serious Eats or watch this video from Cooks Illustrated.)
It lasts. The lemon juice and vinegar in the recipe add tangy flavor along with serving as preservatives. It will hold in the fridge for up to a month. The recipe calls for garlic powder rather than fresh garlic, because fresh garlic will spoil sooner. The other ingredients have a long fridge shelf life, too. (Check your mayonnaise to be sure its expiration date is at least 1 month away, if you want your dressing to hold that long.)
No mystery ingredients. Not only does this taste better than the store bought bottled dressing, but there aren't any fillers or mystery ingredients that you can't pronounce. When it's this easy, why not make your own?
- As a dressing....This is a go-to dressing for salads and antipasto, and it's also awesome drizzled on sandwiches. When summer tomatoes are in season, I drizzle this over a plate of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with chopped fresh basil for an easy side dish.
- As a marinade....Use this dressing as a tasty marinade for veggies, chicken, beef or pork. Because it has acids (vinegar and lemon juice), meats shouldn't marinate longer than an hour--long enough to add flavor to the meat, but not long enough for the acids to compromise texture. If you use it to flavor shrimp or fish, brush it on right before cooking--they are too fragile to soak in an acidic marinade.
Nutritional information (per tablespoon): 69 calories, 7.3g fat, 97mg sodium, .7g carbs, .6g protein, 0 fiber & sugars (not enough to be measurable); Weight Watchers SmartPoints: 2
Step-by-step photos for making
Creamy Italian Dressing
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
- white wine vinegar--you may also use red wine vinegar, but it changes the dressing to a pinkish tint with a slightly different, but still yummy, flavor
- lemon juice (optional)--just a touch brightens the flavor, but you can substitute an equivalent amount of the wine vinegar in its place
- Dijon or brown mustard--helps emulsify and adds tangy flavor
- mayonnaise--helps emulsify and adds creaminess
- Parmesan cheese--adds flavor and creaminess
- garlic powder--helps emulsify and adds flavor
- dried herbs and spices--oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper
- kosher salt
- sugar or honey--just a touch of sweetness to balance out the flavors
- olive oil
- neutral oil--like vegetable, grapeseed, or canola
Step 2. Blend the dressing ingredients using one of these methods. All 3 methods work, but the blender method results in the most stable, long-lasting emulsion.
- BLENDER or FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD: To a blender or food processor, add all ingredients except the oils. Blend until well combined. With motor running, add oils through lid opening in a thin stream; continue blending until well mixed. (In the photos below, I am mixing the vinaigrette in a mini food processor--my favorite little kitchen appliance! )
- BOWL & WHISK METHOD: To a medium bowl, add all ingredients except oils. Whisk until combined. Continue whisking rapidly while adding oils to mixture in a thin stream; keep whisking until uniformly mixed.
- JAR or SALAD DRESSING SHAKER METHOD: Add all of the ingredients to the jar or shaker, cover tightly, and shake vigorously until ingredients are uniformly mixed. It's a bit harder to emulsify the mixture this way, but if you shake vigorously and long enough, it will work. However, the emulsion won't be as stable and long-lasting as the other methods.
view on Amazon: mini food processor, blender, salad dressing shaker
Done! When you can make salad dressing in under 5 minutes, why buy the bottled stuff at the store?
SERVING TIPS. If the salad will be eaten right away, I prefer to toss the salad with dressing before serving it so the greens get evenly coated. But, if the salad won't get eaten for awhile, the dressed greens will go limp if they sit too long. That can be prevented by serving dressing on the side in a small pitcher so everyone can to drizzle however much they want onto their salad. Plastic squeeze bottles may not look as elegant, but they're another very convenient way to dispense salad dressing while making it easy to control the amount of dressing that is released from the bottle.
view on Amazon: small glass pitcher, 14-oz plastic squeeze bottles (these have attached caps--great for fridge storage), 8-oz plastic squeeze bottles (pictured below, these are the perfect size to hold one batch of dressing)
STORAGE TIPS. Store the dressing in a mason jar, shaker bottle, or squeeze bottle in the fridge for up to 1 month. If it's too thick out of the fridge, let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, give it a good shake or stir, and it should be ready to serve.
Make it a Yummy day!
Creamy Italian Dressing
Servings: makes 1 cup
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (may omit and substitute an additional tablespoon of white wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard (brown or Dijon)
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (not shredded--it should have a sand consistency)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup neutral oil like vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil
BLENDER or FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD:
To a blender or food processor, add all ingredients except oils. Blend until well combined. With motor running, add oils through lid opening in a thin stream; continue blending until well mixed.
BOWL & WHISK METHOD:
To a medium bowl, add all ingredients except oils. Whisk until combined. Continue whisking rapidly while adding oils to mixture in a thin stream; keep whisking until uniformly mixed.
STORAGE TIPS: Store the dressing in a mason jar, shaker bottle, or squeeze bottle in the fridge for up to 1 month. (Check your mayonnaise to be sure it's expiration date is at least 1 month away, if you want your dressing to hold that long.)
SERVING TIP: If it's too thick out of the fridge, let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, give it a good shake or stir, and it should be ready to serve.
Recipe may be doubled.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per tablespoon): 69 calories, 7.3g fat, 97mg sodium, .7g carbs, .6g protein, 0 fiber & sugars (not enough to be measurable); Weight Watchers SmartPoints: 2
Based on recipe by Monica's mom, Pat.
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An Italian restaurant favorite and all-purpose dressing for salads, antipasto, and sandwiches. A great marinade, too. From TheYummyLife.com