I’ve wanted to attempt making my own fat-free salad dressing for some time. Aside from how expensive most bottled dressings are they also usually have way too much sugar and sodium. Plus many have preservatives or artificial ingredients. I knew by making my own that I could control the flavor and additives and have it the way I wanted it. And it had to be much cheaper (and fun).
I wasn’t sure it would be just as easy as substituting water, vinegar, or other liquids for the oil normally found in salad dressings. But I read the ingredients listing on a few and found out that that seemed to be exactly what they were doing. So I started there.
Of course, the oil emulsifies when shaken or whisked with the other additions. Once you take that away you have a pretty thin dressing. But that seemed to be what the bottled fat-free dressings were like anyway.
Some of them use things like xanthan or guar gum to help thicken. It helps, but still isn’t much better. While these are natural products and relatively easy to find at a store like Whole Foods, I didn’t attempt that here. I think I’ll work with that in a future recipe. If you’re interested, xanthan gum is frequently used for gluten-free baking, so you might look in that section to find it. It’s not cheap, but a little package lasts a while.
I’ve removed the fat and reduced the sugar and salt. The truth is many fat-free products rely on sugar and salt to trick the taste buds so they won’t notice the missing fat. I didn’t want to play that game. So prepare yourself before tasting and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Instead, I use flavorful additions to help round out what’s missing. What you’ll find here are fresh herbs, tangy Dijon mustard, and a splash of red wine. You don’t even get much of a vinegar bite. Overall, it was very smooth. If you like use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried herb instead of fresh, any type of mustard you like, and more vinegar or water instead of the wine. That’s what I love about homemade vinaigrettes—they’re so flexible and customizable!
Fat-Free Red Wine Vinaigrette
Makes about 3/4 cup
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp dry red wine
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Add all ingredients to a small container with a tight lid. Shake until well-combined. Let sit or refrigerate for several hours for the flavors to marry and the garlic to mellow. Shake again to combine before serving.