Take your salads to the next level with this delicious and easy homemade Italian Dressing recipe. Blended onions, garlic, fresh and dried herbs, good quality olive oil, vinegar, and a bit of sugar make this dressing burst with flavor.
While ready-made bottled dressings have their place and work in a pinch homemade salad dressings just taste so much better. Try our homemade Ranch Dressing.
And you'll always be able to pronounce every single ingredient. 😉
- ½ medium ONION - coarsely chopped
- 1 clove GARLIC - peel and lightly chop. I remove the germ center.
- 1 teaspoon OREGANO - dried
- 1 tablespoon BASIL. I recommend fresh basil because it adds that little bit of extra flavor. But dried basil works well.
- ½ teaspoon SALT
- ½ teaspoon PEPPER
- 1 teaspoon SUGAR
- 1 tablespoon MUSTARD - I use Düsseldorf mustard whenever I can find it, but yellow mustard or dijon mustard works, too. I've also used dry mustard in the past. Have fun and experiment.
- 1 tablespoon WHITE WINE VINEGAR - I generally use white vinegar for this recipe, but you can also red wine vinegar.
- 1 cup OIL - a good quality olive oil
To Make Homemade Italian Dressing
- Peel and coarsely chop ½ yellow onion. Peel garlic and remove the center.
- Combine onions, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, vinegar, and sugar in a small food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
I'm going to use this recipe to talk a bit more about one of my favorite ingredients: olive oil. Fair warning: I'm going to nerd out a bit. 😉
What makes a difference: high-quality olive oil
Olive Oil. There are some ingredients that will make a big difference in your cooking. Investing in good quality olive oil is on top of my list.
In fact, I'll often keep two different types of olive oil in the kitchen. An inexpensive blend for everyday use and a high-quality blend for sauces, dressings, and dips like Parsley Pesto.
So what should you look for in a good quality olive oil? Well to start, olive oils have a grading system.
What's the difference between blended, virgin, extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality oil. It has a lower percentage of oleic (fatty) acids. It's also got a smoother, richer taste. While some lower quality olive oils might taste bitter, good quality oil will have a smooth flavor profile.
Look for olive oil that uses only pitted olives. Pits actually contain a lot of oil but they also produce an unpleasant bitterness.
Good olive oil is like good wine. There are lots of different varieties and lots of different flavor profiles. Some oils will taste lemony, grassy, or peppery, or a combination. Some are better suited for salads and other more for sautéing.
Once you start developing a taste, you'll start developing preferences. Certain regions such as Italy, Greece, or California are known to produce excellent oils.
To get started look at a larger supermarket. Whole Foods has a decent variety of olive oils. But a good place to start is Trader Joe's. It has some really nice olive oils.
Did you know that you can ask a Trader Joe's employee to open any product and offer you a taste? (*This may have changed in 2020)
I know this is a bit on a tangent, but I love good olive oil so much, I could chat about it for ages.
PRO TIP: One of the easiest appetizers is to serve a bit of olive oil in a shallow bowl. Add a dash of salt and pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Dunk in some crusty bread and enjoy.
Back to our Italian dressing. This dressing will last for about 10-14 days in the fridge. Store it in a glass bottle or mason jar. If it has been in the fridge for a few days, be sure to give it a quick shake before serving.
More Amazing Salad Recipes
- Peel and coarsely chop half of a medium onion and one clove garlic.
- Combine the onion and garlic with the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor and blend until well combined.