Saturday, January 22, 2011

Restaurant-Good Salad Dressing - LEMON MAPLE VINAIGRETTE

Why is it that salads from restaurants always taste better than when you make them at home?

When I order a salad from a restaurant, it always tastes so refreshing. 

I always wonder why I don't have more salads at home.  Lettuce, Tomatoes & Croutons.  Simple right?

But somehow, when I make one at home, it just doesn't hit the spot like it does when I'm sitting in a booth someplace and paying 5 times what it would cost if I made it at home. 

This makes me mad, and I'm not going to take it anymore.

So here it is, my version of a Restaurant-Good salad.

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. Real Maple Syrup (not pancake syrup)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Heart of Romaine Lettuce (no substitutes)
Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
Dried cranberries (Craisins)
Mini Croutons
White cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes

The beauty of this salad dressing is there are only 6 ingredients.

Have you ever counted the ingredients on a salad dressing bottle that's in your refrigerator?

Go on, check it out and see for yourself.  I'll wait.

In case you don't want to get up, it will probably look something like this one:

Xanthan Gum!  What the?

Disodium Inosinate?

Who comes up with this stuff?

Side Note:  when I looked up the word Disodium Inosinate online, this was the definition:
chemical formula C10H11N4Na2O8P, is the disodium salt of inosinic acid. It is a food additive often found in instant noodles, potato chips, and a variety of other snacks. It is used as a flavor enhancer, in synergy with monosodium glutamate  to provide the umami taste.

Oh ok, now I understand!  That cleared up everything.

Why can't things be simple? 

Simple is good.

Simple is good for ya.

So let's get started with a restaurant-good salad with good for ya Lemon Maple Vinaigrette Dressing.

Get out your handy dandy home-made salad dressing bottle.  If you don't have one, any ole glass container will do that has a nice tight fitting lid.  Maybe a Mason jar, or even an old salsa jar that you've rinsed out really well of course. 

Once you start making this salad dressing, trust me, you're going to want to get a nice glass salad dressing bottle. Like one of those Good Seasons Salad Dressing bottles they sell at the grocery store.

Take your garlic cloves and mash them really well onto a cutting board or in a wooden bowl.  Mash it together with the Kosher salt.  Now scoop all of that salty garlic goodness into your glass container.

Take your lemon, and be sure to roll it around on the counter, while gently pressing it down with the palm of your hand. This gets it all juicy and easy to squeeze out every last drop.  Once you are done pressing and rolling, you will notice the feel of the lemon is much softer and will be easier to juice.

Into your glass container with the garlic and salt, pour in your vegetable oil, juice of your lemon (watch out for seeds) and pepper.

Ok, now for the maple syrup.  Be sure you buy REAL MAPLE SYRUP and not the kind you pour on your kids pancakes.  The real McCoy.  Mine looks like this:

Now shake shake shake.  Shake Shake Shake.  Shake your Vinaigrette.

Now for the salad itself.  My preference for a really good salad is Hearts of Romaine lettuce.

I get them in a bag of three, and personally I like to cut the lettuce with a knife into small pieces. 

Pet Peeve of mine is a salad where the lettuce is in big chunks. So I cut the lettuce, but feel free to "gently tear" the lettuce, like all the fancy Chefs do.

Get yourself a nice large bowl, put in your cut (or torn) lettuce, throw in a handful of Craisins, Pecans, sliced grape tomatoes, sliced white cheddar cheese and a handful of mini-croutons (again a preference. I like the mini croutons). Feel free to add your favorite salad fixings instead of the one's I mentioned.

Drizzle your Restaurant-Good salad dressing over the top, and toss toss toss.  Toss toss toss.  Be sure to get everything all coated so each bite is better than the one before.

And if you are lucky enough to have a nice chunk of crusty bread, go ahead and dip it right into that dressing.  Why I do believe, you'll think you're sitting in a booth in some restaurnt, eating the best salad you've ever tasted.



  1. I completely understand what you're talking about. I rarely make salads and it is because they never quite taste as good as they do in the restaurant. But I just love salads so much. I have been searching for some good salad dressing recipes and I'm definitely going to write this one down. Great post - thank you!!

  2. Mmmm Sally this sounds so delicious and fresh!

  3. Great post Sally, looks (and sounds) like a salad I wouldn't mind enjoying any day. Also, the additives that are in food are (in my opinion) disgusting.

    As a culinary student (chef), in no way do I believe disodium inosinate to bring out the "umami" flavor of any food. But I'm just a picky kid, scientist know what their talking about right? :p

  4. Girl, you are way past are a ROCK STAR! This is awesome.

  5. Holy shit, this recipe is crazy good! :P

    Thank you

  6. Wow, thank you for sharing! It's really tasty.
    There is high-quallity restourant equipment on site
    Check it!

  7. Great recipe! Made it along with the salad you posted and it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe!