House Dressing


I really like tossed green salads… at restaurants.  I have had to work for years to create salads at home that I truly enjoy.  But at a restaurant, I am often drawn to the salads on the menu.  It’s just never the same at home.  It’s the dressing! Don’t you think? (well and the candied nuts, boiled eggs, nice cheese and marinated grilled meat).  So, I am always trying to uncover the secret to what’s in the dressing when I am eating out.  This week we went to Pei Wei, and I got the Asian Chopped Salad with that amazing tangy Asian dressing, and I kept trying to guess the recipe.

If there is a “house dressing” at a restaurant, I almost always choose it.  It means that they make it there, in house.  It means it is the favorite, their specialty.  And I want to have that!  I remember a restaurant we frequented in college that had a warm, honey bacon dressing as their “house dressing” and I was in love with it.  And there was a blue cheese vinaigrette at another fine eating spot.

When at Grayton Beach this summer, our family went to a famous local restaurant/dive, the Red Bar.  You might have seen the T-shirts people wear.  It is a fun, eclectic, cluttery restaurant that locals and visitors frequent.  I had a salad topped with grilled fish.  It was good –  really good. But the best part of my meal was the dressing.  It is their house dressing – a tomato basil vinaigrette, and it is so tasty.  I got the recipe, or one that is pretty darn close to it, when I was in Florida.  We have tried it at home and it’s a hit.

It’s sweet enough and vinegary enough for my liking, and herby and not-too-sweet enough for Dave.  You’ll have to try it and let me know what you think.
Here it is:
Red Bar Tomato Basil Dressing:
1 1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 Tbsp worcestershire
1 egg yolk*

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolk until light yellow.  Add oil slowly, whipping continuously.  Add vinegar and all other ingredients.  Stir well until fully incorporated.

*Now, I know some of you are freaking out because there’s a raw egg yolk in this dressing recipe, but I think it has legitimate reason for being there. “They” say it is an emulsifier and therefore improves the texture and smoothness.  If you can’t bear the thought of it, I imagine you could use an egg substitute, or omit it altogether.


So, I think it would be fun if every salad-fixing household had their our house dressing. (Even if it is a Good Seasons packet with oil and vinegar, or even Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette).
If I had a house dressing, I’d have a hard time choosing.  I like this Tomato Basil Dressing, but I also like…

A Greek Dressing.

And I love a sweet Vinaigrette…and you can’t beat a creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette.


What would your house dressing be?

One thought on “House Dressing

  1. karin says:

    I'm looking forward to trying some of your dressings, because there really isn't anything like a homemade dressing! They taste so much better!

    Our house dressing is a vinegarette a friend in the DR shared with me from a Wycliffe cookbook. It's Eric's favorite and he requests it a lot. The really fun thing about the cookbook is that it has a lot of recipes in it that include adaptations for people who might be living in countries where they can't get all the ingredients.


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