I have three foundational ideas for managing my food preparation: 1) stock basic staples, 2) keep food simple most of the time, and 3) make things from scratch. This has frequently lead to creative alternatives to buying pre-mixed products. An added plus is that I have a much better idea of what is in my food.
Over the years I have experimented with salad dressing recipes, but have been frustrated with everything from taste to still ending up with multiple jars of flavors in the fridge. In the end, it was our short time in residence in Taiwan that helped me over the hump of coming up with a basic salad dressing. I was extremely limited in what ingredients were available to me that I recognized. Greens were popular over there, but not salads in the sense that Americans are generally familiar with. There was also the issue of limited storage space living in a 5th floor apartment, not to mention that in the higher humidity everything, even what was in the refrigerator, spoiled more quickly.
The recipe we came up with was so satisfactory that we have used it ever since, completely preferring it to prepared salad dressings. The proportions are approximate, because I never measure when I am making it. The ingredients are:
1 part real mayonnaise to about
3 parts PLAIN yogurt (homemade or Nancy’s are what I use)
a couple or more tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I am thinking of experimenting with other flavored vinegars)
about 1/2 teaspoon of salt per 4 cups of total salad dressing
possibly 1/4 teaspoon pepper, same comparison as for salt
garlic, granulated, 1/4 teaspoon?, optional
herbs, such as basil, optional
Use a wire whip to mix all of this. Remember, you can always add more of things like vinegar and salt to bring out flavor, but you can’t take it out. The salad dressing can be personalized by having cheeses, such as feta or bleu, available among the salad makings. If anyone needs to add pickle relish or ketchup for their dressing, they can do it in another little bowl for their portion size.
Put any left-overs in a container with a lid, then into the refridgerator. A mason jar with the Ball white plastic lids works well. I find labeling and dating containers of food very useful for kitchen management, but also things tend to get eaten, not forgotten, if people know what they are. The dressing seems to store well, but we have a large family of salad eaters, so it’s not usually around for more than a month.