Growing up, I had a salad every night as the first course at dinner. It was almost always the same basic salad (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and sometimes carrots). I always chose Italian dressing. Over the years, my mom bought different varities of Italian dressing. I learned that I liked the ones that had a lot more flavor. Not suprisingly, these were the ones that had less oil, so that they flavors could really shine through.
Italian dressing is no longer my favorite dressing; in fact, each time I make a salad, I actually have to stop and think about which of the many dressings that I like that I want on that particular salad. My oldest child has decided to take after me, though--her favorite dressing is also Italian. (I can see her tastes changing as she now has to comtemplate whether she would prefer Italian or my Balsalmic Orange Vinagrette!)
Premade salad dressing is one of those extrememly over-priced items that is so easy to make at home. It's simple, quick, and can be made with basic pantry staples. (I know some of you are saying, what's premade dressing? It's one of those American oddities that I certainly didn't find on grcery store shelves in France, but in the U.S., making your own dressings is not as common as spending several dollars on a 16 oz. (500 ml) bottle of dressing.) While I've been making most dressings from scratch for several years now, Italian has been my one holdout that I would buy on sale and with coupons. Now I make my own, and it's much less money than I could buy it, even combining a sale and a coupon.
1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar
1/3 cup (75 ml) vegetable oil
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
1/4 cup (55 g) granulated sugar
Whisk all ingredients together. If possible, allow to sit and chill in the refrigerator before serving. Shake or stir before pouring, as this dressing does not stay emulsified.
Notes: To make this for less, I buy spices in bulk from Sam's Club. When I have it, I use basil and oregano from my garden.I also get the vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar in bulk from Sam's Club. I get oil in a gallon container from Walmart.