The warm autumn weather provided beautiful salad ingredients. The garden was bursting with leaf lettuce, arugula, beet greens, onions, radishes, peppers and a few cherry tomatoes. A salad made with such fresh ingredients deserves a homemade dressing.
I usually make an Italian vinaigrette-style dressing that consists of water, vinegar (or lemon juice), olive oil and fresh herbs and garlic.
Despite its name, Italian dressing is not something one will find in Italy. There, salads are normally dressed with a light touch of olive oil and cider or balsamic vinegar.
American-style Italian vinaigrette salad dressing has an interesting history. It is thought to date to 1941 in Framingham, Massachusetts. Florence Hanna, the wife of restaurateur Ken Hanna, was the daughter of Italian immigrants. She made large batches of the family’s salad dressing for the house salads in Ken’s restaurants. The dressing was so popular that customers began to request the dressing to go.
A nearby bottling facility approached the Hannas about producing the dressing commercially. The Hannas agreed and Ken’s Salad Dressing brand was born.
In 1948, Wishbone Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, began serving an “Italian” dressing with their salads. Lena Sollomi, a co-owner of the restaurant, adapted a recipe that her Sicilian family prepared. Demand for the dressing was so high, Lena’s son, the other restaurant co-owner, started a separate business to produce and sell the dressing. The recipe was later purchased by Lipton who created the Wish-Bone brand of dressing.
I added salami, cheese, artichokes and olives to my salad. I thought a creamier dressing would be more fitting. I found a recipe for a creamy Italian dressing that called for mayonnaise as the base ingredient. It was a wonderful, thick dressing that enhanced all the fresh ingredients in my Antipasto Salad.
Since I have some dressing left over, I am thinking of trying it with a pasta, Provolone and salami salad. I think it would also make a great dipping sauce on a crudité plate.
This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make and yields about 1½ cups of dressing.
Creamy Italian Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
½ small red onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
In a blender, combine all the ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator.