Make or Buy: Salad Dressing

Speaking of saving money…

We eat a lot of salad with dinner.  It seems to be one of those dinner staples.  Everything else changes or rotates–with the exception of salad.

Oh, to be sure, depending on what’s in season, the type of salad changes.  Greek salad and caprese salads are popular in late summer.  Grain salad with roasted vegetables is a nice change of pace in fall and winter.  But green salad is the mainstay.

But the way to make a green salad really enjoyable–even night after night–is great salad dressing.  And the best salad dressing will even save you money.  That’s because the only dressing worth eating is composed of mostly what you already have in your kitchen cupboards.

That’s the catch.  You have to make it.

But once you get into the habit of making it, you’ll never look back.

Especially when you can whip up a batch that will last all week and will taste better than anything you can buy.

Here’s my favorite vinaigrette dressing, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.


  • 1/4 cup vinegar, use your favorite
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • lots of fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or more to taste if it’s too acidic for you)
  • clove of garlic, put through a garlic press

Place all ingredients into bottle/container and shake well.

There’s tons of flexibility with vinaigrette.  Change up the type of vinegar or oil.  Add fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic or other ingredients and you will never tire of your salad dressing.

For a large family sized salad:


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients into bottle/container and shake well.

Any container will do or you can buy one like this with easy measurement guidelines and instructions for several different dressings:

And the internet can provide you with endless variations on dressings to experiment with.  If you’ve ever whisked an egg white or shaken a can of whipping cream (whoops, another item to make at home!), you can certainly make salad dressing.  It’s simple, delicious, and easy on the wallet.  

Definitely make.  You won’t be disappointed. 

What are your favorite salad dressings?


Friday Feature: Kefir

Eaten any Marmite or frog eggs lately?

Cindy at Fix Me a Snack likes to try out obscure and interesting foods with her children and post their experiences on her blog. It doesn’t necessarily make me want to run out and try it all, but it certainly makes for entertaining reading.

And it gave me an idea.

There are lots of good, unusual foods out there in the market that could, no, should be a little more mainstream.  Things I’ve tried or would like to try which could be introduced here on Table Talk.

The first one that comes to mind is currently in my refrigerator.  I have been hooked on the stuff over the past several months.

Ever heard of anyone with a kefir addiction?

Sam calls kefir “liquid yogurt”.

It’s made by fermenting milk with kefir grains, a mixture of yeast and bacteria which slightly sours the milk.  And it does taste a lot like a drinkable yogurt.

You can find it at most large stores and health food stores.  It often comes in sweetened fruit flavored varieties which are tasty but loaded with sugar.  I prefer the plain, unsweetened kind.  Buying it this way allows me to use it in all sorts of ways.

Here are 5 of my favorites:

  1. Smoothies.  Blend it up in place of yogurt in smoothies.  Sam likes his blended with frozen banana pieces, cocoa powder, maple syrup and a dash of vanilla.
  2. Over oatmeal.  I’ve making a lot of baked pumpkin oatmeal lately.  Instead of using milk, I pour thick, creamy kefir over the top and drizzle the whole thing with syrup.
  3. As a replacement for heavy cream.  It’s a bit tangier than cream I’ll admit, but it certainly has far less fat and calories.  Last night I made creamy pesto pasta, using equal part pesto and kefir.  Delicious.  I’ve also used in soups and casseroles.
  4. In salad dressing.  Use in place of yogurt or buttermilk in creamy salad dressings.
  5. Just drink it.  I have to admit I love it plain.  Sometimes I mix in a spoonful or two of the sweetener, Xyla, for a cool, very light and refreshing dessert.

According to the nutrition facts on the back of the kefir we buy, it has a good amount of calcium, lots of protein and is loaded with probiotics.  I find it addictive (in a good way).

Do you use kefir?  Any more suggested uses for the rest of us?

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We have Clover brand kefir at our store.