Happiness Is…

July 20th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Dinner, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

…playing tennis in a bathing suit.

…watching my daughters perform in two incredibly absurd camp skits, laughing their faces off the entire time.

…having homemade salad dressing in the refrigerator.

My sister was the one who told me to write about this last one. She reminded me that even if you have just-picked, French Laundry-worthy vegetables in the salad bowl, they can be completely annihilated by a splash of the wrong bottled vinaigrette. I don’t mean to suggest that you shouldn’t buy salad dressing — there are some good ones out there* and if the dinner-crunch makes you choose between homemade and meltdown vs. bottle and angelic…well, obviously, go with the bottle. All I’m saying is that if on Sunday, you plan ahead and make a bottle of good, all-purpose vinaigrette, which will be a guaranteed bright spot on the plate even if your veggies are only Green Giant-worthy, you will be as happy as a 6-year-old playing tennis in a bathing suit when that jar is waiting for you on Wednesday.

*I like Trader Joe’s red wine vinaigrette and Jo’s ginger dressing is a major VIP on the carrot dipping circuit in our house.

Money in the Bank Vinaigrette

Add the following ingredients to an old jar*:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar or a squeeze of honey
squeeze of lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped herbs (chives, parsley, dill, thyme, whatever you’ve got)
1/2 cup good olive oil

Shake vigorously and drizzle on green and grain salads, cold asparagus, warm potatoes.

Related: Money in the Bank pie crust, chicken stock, pizza crust.

*I find an old bottle of TJoe’s Cornichons is just right

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 City Share // Jul 20, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Homemade salad dressing does make all the difference. We make something very similar, but we don’t usually have fresh herbs sitting around so we season it with a clove of garlic instead.

  • 2 bianca // Jul 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Although I make my own dressing from time to time, I am partial to Newman’s Own Oil and Vinegar dressing; even if my salad is sad, that dressing is always a winner!

  • 3 Jan@Family Bites // Jul 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I make homemade dressing too, and once I started I never wanted to go back. But I agree with Bianca…the Newman’s brand is pretty tasty.

  • 4 MemeGRL // Jul 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    An old jar of TJ’s grape jelly is awesome too. This was delicious on my CSA veggie salad for lunch today. Thank you for all the terrific things you’ve inspired us to try this summer!

  • 5 Amanda // Jul 20, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I third the Newman’s Dressing, what is it with that stuff, so darn good. I admit this is one where I tend to just use the store bought stuff. Whenever I try to make dressing it is either too goopy, too oily, too this or that. I eat salad almost every night as our “green” item on the plate.

    Did anyone else have a mom who would look at a dinner plate and say, “That plate does not have enough green on it.” And then you knew you were caught red handed in serving yourself slightly less than what Mom deemed acceptable. Guilty as charged.

  • 6 654carroll // Jul 20, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Agave is also good in lieu of the honey (low glycemic, or so i am told). A dash of Worcestershire isn’t bad either. And have i bored you with my Asian peanut dressing that you make in the peanut butter jar, using the dregs of it as your oil? (with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar.) (i’m now a green-cap TJ’s convert, thanks to DALS.) Oh! and the TJoe’s frozen tiny cubes of fresh basil and cilantro? it’s like they’re made for dressing.

  • 7 tara pollard pakosta // Jul 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I have to make this one! The one I always make is on the Pampered Chef Recipe Salad dressing Maker, LOVE IT!
    Happiness is finding your awesome site! THANK YOU! it’s wonderful! can’t wait to try all your stuff!
    tara pollard pakosta

  • 8 jenny // Jul 20, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    654 carroll — wait what? tiny cubes of fresh basil and cilantro??? Is that like 2-buck chuck? Only available in certain TJoes?

  • 9 Trish O // Jul 20, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    funny that you should post this today…i was just thinking last night that my homemade dressing i had just made was not very good. This one sounds way better than the one i “winged” I think I will make this up for all the greens that I have in the house. I really like the idea of having my own “house” dressing. And one of my kids will eat anything with mustard in it.

  • 10 654carroll // Jul 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    in the freezer section–i’ve got them in brooklyn as well as swampscott, mass. They have cilantro, basil, and garlic. (The TJ cashier told me about how she makes an easy pesto by just zapping the basil and garlic together.) a little cube is also perfect for dropping into hot soup in the winter, when it calls for a garnish of fresh cilantro. but again–great in dressing!

    http://www.mydorot.com/Dorot-Chopped-Cilantro.aspx

  • 11 MommyLisa // Apr 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

    OH SO making this tonight. I have ALL the ingredients at home! ;)

  • 12 Tara G // Nov 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I always make my own dressing now – so cheap and way better. I vary the vinegars I use though. I use Balsamic a lot and white wine vinegar as well.

  • 13 Brigid // Jan 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Dressing. Salad dressing. Shaken, not stirred. ;D

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