Bottled dressing: much to criticize

Burning Questions

August 09, 2006|By ERICA MARCUS | ERICA MARCUS,NEWSDAY

What is your favorite bottled vinaigrette?

I don't use bottled salad dressing, have never had it in my home and cannot understand its appeal.

Bottled dressing invariably lacks the stuff that belongs in a vinaigrette (good olive oil, good vinegar or lemon juice) and is full of stuff that doesn't belong: water, excessive sodium, preservatives, flavorings and, most egregiously, sugar and its cheaper relative, high-fructose corn syrup.

Wishbone Italian dressing contains, in descending order: water, soybean oil, vinegar, high-fructose corn syrup, salt, garlic, onion (both dehydrated), red bell pepper, xanthum gum, spices, natural flavors (soy), calcium disodium EDTA, lemon juice concentrate, caramel color and annatto extract. A 2-tablespoon serving (1 ounce) contains 490 milligrams sodium, about 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance, and 3 grams of sugar (about 3/4 teaspoon). An equal amount of Coca-Cola contains 3.3 grams of sugar.

Newman's Own Light Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil dressing contains, to start, water, red-wine vinegar, vegetable oil, sugar, extra-virgin olive oil and salt. He may give all his profits to charity, but his dressing contains 2 grams of sugar.

I'm all for sugar in brownies, profiteroles and milkshakes, but salad? Clearly, I'm at odds with American taste in this regard, because the trend is toward increasingly sweet dressings. This explains the vogue for raspberry vinaigrette, and Wishbone Raspberry-Hazelnut Vinaigrette contains 6 grams of sugar in each serving.

I offer this simple recipe for vinaigrette: Combine 1 part good wine vinegar with 3 to 4 parts good extra-virgin olive oil and some salt in a screw-top jar. Shake, and pour over salad. For a creamy vinaigrette, shake the vinegar with some Dijon mustard before adding the oil. This time of year, I usually just drizzle olive oil directly over the salad and follow it with a squeeze of lemon juice. Give it a try.

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to burningquestions@newsday.com, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food/Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.

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