Homemade Italian Dressing

After interviewing Kelly for my Honest Mom series, I’ve begun reading labels more carefully according to her suggestions. What I’ve found is most of the time I can replicate a dressing or seasoning packet with what I already have at home – and without the unnecessary preservatives! Not only do I feel better about what I’m feeding my family, but it’s also a huge confidence booster to make something from scratch, relying entirely on your taste buds.

I won’t lie: when I was done, I did a happy dance in the kitchen.
To which A said, “Mom! STOP!” (Apparently she’s now hit the age of parental embarrassment. Even when no one’s around to witness.)

Let me share a little disclaimer: Several months ago I would not have had the time, energy, or even desire to do this. Chasing after the kids, meal planning, working, keeping up with obligations from the hubs, school, and church kept me plenty busy enough, thankyouverymuch. So the two biggest things that led to me trying this were:
1. My family eating healthier – The hubs is trying to lose weight, I want to eat healthier, and my mother in law started Weight Watchers. Part of the reason I tried this is because I knew she could only have fat free dressing, so I made it from scratch. (YES! The only fat in this recipe is from the olive oil, which she is allowed.)
2. My youngest is finally old enough to (pretty much) keep herself busy for longer periods of time and without endangering herself, so I can get more things done. Plus, I knew I’d be using most of necessary ingredients for dinner already, so it wasn’t a whole lot of extra work.

Just to be clear: If you would have told me 6 months ago to make Italian dressing from scratch, I’d have told you to jump off a bridge. Okay, maybe something less extreme, but I just want you to know that my intent isn’t to make anyone feel bad for using bottled dressing. More to show how fun and easy it is, if you have the desire and time to do it.

So HERE WE GO!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tblspn very finely diced red pepper
1 finely diced shallot
4 Tblspn Olive Oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 Tblspn Kosher salt
3/4 Tblspn honey
Dash oregano
Dash basil

Finely dice your red pepper. You almost want it to be a mince, releasing all the juices.

Keep cutting until juices are released and it's almost mushy.

Keep cutting until juices are released and it’s almost mushy.

Combine liquids (oil, vinegars, and honey) in a bowl and whisk to combine.
wpid-20140222_155241.jpg

Add salt and pepper; whisk again.
Add the finely chopped garlic. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of Italian dressing are the chunks. You can mince your garlic if you like, but I prefer to leave some texture!

wpid-20140222_160201.jpg
Guess what’s next? Yep! Whisk away!

A helped me whisk, taste, and adjust my recipe.

A helped me whisk, taste, and adjust my recipe.

Add your red pepper and shallot aaaand… WHISK!
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Add your dashes of oregano and basil.
The finished product should look something like this:
wpid-20140222_161215.jpg
I poured mine in a cruet for easier dispensing:

Remember to shake before using!

Remember to shake before using!

Be sure to let it sit for at least an hour before you use – the garlic needs time to flavor everything. This will keep in the fridge for about a week – longer if you keep shaking it – otherwise everything separates and you can get a thick solid film on top.

I dare you to try this. Then I dare you to take a blind taste test with a bottled dressing and determine which is which.
And even if you are able to tell the difference, you’ll probably prefer your homemade one anyway. Why? Because there’s one ingredient you won’t find in bottled store-bought dressing: LOVE!

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