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~Scratch-Made All-American Catalina Salad Dressing~

IMG_5712As a lover of sweet and tanilizingly savory combinations, Catalina dressing was always on the door of my mom's refrigerator.  While she and dad didn't, for the most part, ever stray past the bottle of Wish-Bone Italian dressing, for some reason my brother and I gravitated to this red-orange concoction.  While I enjoyed it on chef-type salads that contained "the works" (lots of cheeses and meats), my brother would drench large chunks or wedges of iceberg lettuce with it.

Please don't confuse Catalina dressing w/French dressing. 

6a0120a8551282970b0240a49661b5200b 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8d729c1970bCatalina dressing is an American creation defined as: A commercially-emulsified, tomato-based dressing that is creamy, tartly-sweet and red-orange in color. Catalina is often confused with French dressing.  I find that odd because basic French dressing is an oil-and-vinegar combination seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs or herbes de Provence -- creamier versions of French dressing (see small photo) contain mustard (to stabilize it and give it its yellow color) and sometimes mayonnaise for a creamy version.  There are no tomato products in French dressing. I could more understand Catalina being confused with Russian and/or Thousand Islands Dressings (see larger photo), as both of these contain a tomato product.  That said, both are considerably lighter in color because because they contain mayonnaise, which Catalina does not.

There are no tomato products in classic French dressing.

IMG_5573It's no surprise there came a time when I wanted to create my own version of this beloved bottled dressing.  After several attempts and experiments (using "tomato-y" ingredients such as ketchup, chili sauce, tomato paste and even one try with tomato puree -- all ok but not great), this simple version using canned, condensed tomato soup produced what I consider to be perfection.

IMG_55821  10 3/4-ounce can condensed tomato soup

1/2  cup white vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

1/2  teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, white pepper

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

IMG_5586 IMG_5586 IMG_5599~ Step 1.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato soup, white vinegar, granulated sugar, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, garlic powder, onion powder sea salt and white pepper.   Gradually, and in a thin steady stream, vigorously whisk in the oil.  Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth, thickened, satiny and emulsified.  The whisking process will only take about 1-2 minutes.

IMG_5608~ Step 3.  Use immediately or transfer to a 2-cup food storage container with a tight-fitting lid and a pourer top.  Use or refrigerate.

Return to room temperature and gently shake or stir briefly, just prior to using.  You will have 2 cups/16 ounces dressing. This is conveniently, the same amount as is contained in one bottle of store-bought Catalina dressing.  

Note: This dressing keeps very nicely in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Once it is whisked together, it really never separates, which makes it great to serve on a buffet table or at a gathering where repeatedly shaking or stirring a salad dressing can be a messy nuisance.  Because it contains no mayonnaise, it's also great for taking to any outdoor picnic and tailgate.

Because scratch-made is way better than store-bought Catalina:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4af24c0200bScratch-Made All-American Catalina Salad Dressing:  Recipe yields 2 cups/16 ounces salad dressing (the equivalent off 1, bottle store-bought).

Special Equipment List:  whisk; 2-cup food storage container w/tight fitting lid & pourer top.

IMG_5672Cook's Note: If you were a mother in the 80's, or if you were a kid in the 80's, you likely know all about this salad.  It showed up everywhere: birthday party buffets, weekend sleepovers, support-the-team sports benefits, potluck school functions, Summer pool parties, neighborhood block parties,  etc. There was never a doubt it would be served, and, everyone had a recipe.  Try my version of the now retro ~ Doritos Taco Salad w/Catalina &/or Ranch Dressing ~. It's taco salad fun.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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