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It may be tempting to use the Italian dressing in a bottle to season your pasta salad, but before you do I want to say one thing…. “STOP!”
Did you know you can easily and quickly make your own dressing? Real dressing for Italian salads actually are made of 2 main ingredients – extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.
How much of each depends on the tastes of the person. I recommend to start with a 2 to 1 ratio meaning if you use 4 Tablespoons of the oil, use 2 Tablespoons of the vinegar. Modify to taste.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
You want to use the extra virgin for items such as salads. In truth, anything that doesn’t need to be fried. Extra virgin has less acidity than regular olive oil. This makes it more pleasing to the palette, especially when eating it in essence, raw.
Extra virgin olive oil is not much more in cost than regular oils. The taste difference is huge. Some argue first cold pressed extra virgin is truly the most flavorful. But it is also the most expensive. In addition, depending on where it comes from, different countries have different laws which govern what “first cold pressed” means.
I buy both extra virgin olive oil and some times first cold press when it is on sale. The taste difference? None that would really set one apart from the other in regards to making or breaking a recipe. I’ve also tried “organic” olive oils, but again – nothing that raised my eyebrows.
On the other hand the organic isn’t so much about flavor as it is about the way the olives are grown and cultivated – without pestisides and chemicals. That really is the big motivating factor as to why so many people prefer organic products.
You can choose from a variety of vinegars. White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or even balsamic vinegar are all good choices for pasta salads.
Balsamic does have a strong flavor and therefore goes great with salads that use ingredients like sun dried tomatoes, or olives. My pasta salad with olives, as I like to call the recipe, is full of flavors that are distinct but not competing.
The problem with store bought Italian dressing is that it is often so sweet that it can ruin a dish. Depending on the brand you buy you really don’t know what flavor you will be contributing to the salad.
If you don’t care then do what you will, however if you do care about your culinary reputation, avoid the temptation and try my recommended pasta salad recipe here.
Flavored Olive Oils.
Boy the verdict is still far out in my opinion when it comes to flavored oils. I’ve yet to come across one that wows me. Now my parents on the other hand have surprised me by using them in their own regular salads. We never had this stuff growing up in our house, and now here they are using it.
Here is the issue. When you flavor olive oils, you are then flavoring whatever food you apply it to. So unless you know how you want to use it and for what dish, it will either go rancid in your kitchen or be used on something it shouldn’t.
Remember, olive oils start going bad after 6 months of opening and 12-18 months of purchase (assuming it hasn’t been sitting forever on a shelf already).
Bottom Line: Italian dressing – do it authentic with extra virgin olive oil and a suitable vinegar as mentioned above.
Enjoy your salad!
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