Make Your Own Bottled Dressing

Have you ever been to a restaurant or a party, eaten something dreamy and desperately wanted the recipe? But did you get the recipe?

I have. And I did. And, honestly, when I got the recipe, the ingredients surprised me quite a bit and definitely piqued my interest. Here's why.

Flashback: A few months ago, I submitted a recipe request to a food writer at the San Antonio Express-News. After waiting patiently for a few weeks, my question and recipe both appeared in the Sunday Taste section.

My request was for a salad. We attended a birthday party catered by a local restaurant and fell in love with the salad--particularly the dressing which was equal parts tang from the balsamic and. And what?

The recipe calls for adding bottled Italian salad dressing. Really? Not. David and I agreed that while we loved the flavor of the dressing, we knew there had to be a healthier way to get the same flavor. (Just go ahead and look at the ingredients in Italian salad dressing in a bottle.)

Needless to say, I decided to skip the restaurant's version of the recipe, but I wasn't willing to throw the recipe away or even furgettaboutit. I just needed a healthier alternative.

Fortunately, while organizing my stack of recipes the other day, I came across this hearty and well balanced Italian salad dressing that uses dried herbs, vegetables and a few other ingredients you probably have in your well stocked pantry.

All you need is a 16 oz. jar to shake up a bottle of homemade-but-tastes-and-looks-like-bottled-Italian-salad-dressing. It's so good, you might just want to cut a "wedge" for the occasion.

Buen provecho!
Italian Salad Dressing
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This is recipe tastes and looks like the classic Italian Wishbone dressing, but you get to make it at home and control what goes in it! With just some basic ingredients, dried herbs and veggies, you'll be shaking this dressing up on a regular basis. You can decide if you want to let anyone know whether it's homemade or Wishbone.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup neutral salad oil (I use Smart Balance vegetable oil)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon local raw honey (I used Gretchen Bee Ranch)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste, if needed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste ( I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake the jar and dance around the kitchen for a few seconds.
Using a spear of lettuce, taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning, if needed. The dressing will keep in the fridge for several weeks. But prepare to make it more often than that.

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