Vintage to Modern Homemade Salad Dressings for Health and Thrift
Enhance a beautiful salad with one of these vintage to modern homemade, healthy, and low-cost salad dressings.I don’t know about you, but I hate the idea of spending money on non-organic commercial salad dressings that I could make more cheaply for myself while also eliminating the chemicals they contain. We still don’t know the ultimate health impact of the food industry’s rise during the last century (persisting well into this century) that made preservative additives, artificial flavor enhancers, and addicting salts and sugars an accepted part of a food product. Although we’re all looking for convenient, easy-to-prepare foods, we don’t have to pay a questionable health or dollar price or spend a lot of time and effort to have delicious, homemade salad dressings in our kitchens.
Salad dressings are easy condiments to make and among the most versatile staples you can have in your pantry for creating quick and healthy meals. For lunch or at the end of the day, chop up some salad greens and onions, grate a few carrots, add a bit of cheese, hardboiled egg, or cooked chicken, toss in some sunflower seeds, and add a homemade salad dressing that took you only minutes to prepare.
Here are some of my favorite salad dressings, created and tested over time in our family’s kitchens.
Russian Dressing from the 1950s.
This old-time favorite is so easy to make, it’s almost a sin. In the 1950s and 60s, this simple but tangy and sweet homemade dressing graced the vintage dinner tables not only of my family, but also of our neighbors’. In those days, dinner salad ingredients consisted of iceberg lettuce, red onion, tomato, and cucumber.
3 Tablespoons Miracle Whip thinned with a tablespoon of the milk product of your choice (almond, soy, or cow)
1 Tablespoon vinegar
3 Gherkins, minced finely
1 Tablespoon gherkin juice from the jar
1 Teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix well, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving. This dressing will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.
More About Russian Dressing
Debate exists among those who love Russian dressing as to where it came from and when, and whether Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing (another old-time favorite) are the same. For some Russian dressing history, lively discussion, and a more detailed recipe, take a look at Everything I Know about Russian Dressing.
Basic Herb Vinaigrette from the 1970s
I’ve been making this salad dressing for 25 years. I found the original recipe in a cookbook all those years ago and have modified it over time to reflect my family’s changing tastes and preferences. We love this retro dressing on a pasta salad as well as on a green salad, and also enjoy it as a dressing over steamed broccoli or sugar snap peas.
1-1/4 Cups vegetable or corn oil
1/2 Cup white or red wine vinegar - you can substitute any vinegar you like…raspberry, apple cider, the choice is yours
1/3 Cup white currants, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 Tablespoon garlic, finely minced
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, finely minced
1/4 Cup fresh dill, finely minced
1/2 Teaspoon each, dried basil and oregano
1 Teaspoon salt (or less) - we’ve been experimenting with different salts, and we think the pink Himalayan salt with its essence of salty air is a great choice
1-1/2 Teaspoons freshly ground black peppercorns - don’t skimp on the pepper. Remember that the dressing will be distributed across many greens, vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients. The black pepper will be a great flavor enhancer, not a flavor dominator.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl or jar, whisking or shaking to blend and lighten. Let the dressing sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving to let the flavors pull together.
This recipe makes approximately two cups of dressing and will last in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for about a week.
The Year 2010 and Beyond: An Oil-Free Salad Dressing for a Different Lifestyle
The wonderful vintage and retro dressings of the past are heavily laced with fat, sugar, and salt. In moderation, these dressings are still wonderful to eat, but some people, for a variety of health reasons, need to avoid them. Today, as we learn more about what’s good for us and what is not, many of us are eliminating or cutting down on these fatty, sugary, and salty elements but still want a tasty, creamy, and rich dressing to grace our salads and vegetable dishes.
Our family kitchen has been experimenting with oil-free, low-salt, and low-sugar salad dressings, and we’ve come up with a tangy and fiber-rich, oil-free salad dressing that seems to be pleasing palates all around. The ingredients include artichoke hearts for fiber and creamy texture, cashews and sunflower seeds that add “good” fats and a mild sweetness, and vinegar, garlic, and mustard for a sharp and pleasing tang. When we use this dressing, we also add fruits, such as mango or grape, to the salad ingredients to temper the tang. You can find the ingredients list and preparation method in Sally’s Oil-free Salad Dressing - An Eat To Live Friendly Recipe.
Give these homemade salad dressings a try. Then pat yourself on the back for health and thrift. Bon appétit!