Beyond your Basic Vinaigrette

How to Step Up Your Salad Dressing Game

Here at Pasolivo, we’re big believers in the Mediterranean Diet. Based on the traditional cuisine of Greece, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Turkey, etc., The Mediterranean Diet is known to decrease risk of heart disease and increase longevity, as scientific studies have shown. These countries are part of the 5 Blue Zones of the world– regions where the average life expectancy is significantly higher than the average American thanks to the diet and lifestyle of each given culture.

The Mediterranean diet is full of polyphenol-rich olive oil, seasonal fruits and veggies, and limited dairy and meat consumption.

Eat Like a Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet requires at least 4 servings of vegetables daily, going beyond the USDA recommendation of 2 to 3 cups of vegetables for the average adult. For those health-conscious foodies out there, salad is often a daily menu item to hit these goals. And since olive oil is the primary source of fat in the Mediterranean Diet, a vinaigrette to pair is a must. Which can get a little boring, we must admit. So If you’re tired of the same old, lackluster oil and balsamic vinaigrette, here’s some tips to step up your salad dressing game.

A great way to zest up the average dressing is to use a flavorful, unique fruit vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Our Winter Ambrosia is a club member favorite—made with pears, apples, and warm spices.

First Things First

When concocting the perfect salad dressing, it’s best to start with simple, quality ingredients. Vinaigrettes are typically 75% oil! It’s the flavor base of the dressing. Using a California-grown, award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil makes all the difference. Legitimate cold-pressed EVOO has a superior flavor profile compared to the average, store-bought olive oil. Bold, fruity, peppery, and well-rounded. Better flavor, and so many health benefits.

The Importance of EVOO in the Mediterranean Diet

California Olive Oil Council certified olive oil is loaded with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, and cancer-fighting polyphenols, which are key components to the life expectancy of the Blue Zone centurion. The Mediterranean Diet is founded on the health benefits of olives. Embrace healthy fats!

If you’re looking for a polyphenol-rich olive oil, try our Il Singelo, or Olio Nuovo, made from single varietal Italian olives. The more peppery the EVOO, the more health benefits. You can buy California Olive Oil online at

Break out the Blender

The dressing is the most important component of a salad. The greens are just a vessel for flavor, the same way pasta is a vessel for a delicious sauce. One way to add complexity to a healthy salad dressing recipe is to blend additional ingredients into the base. Think roasted garlic, parmesan, fresh herbs, berries, ginger, roasted peppers, etc. The list goes on. For a super-green healthy vinaigrette, you could even blend in kale or spinach, or tofu for a boost of plant protein. An awesome example of this is our Roasted Autumn Salad with Romesco. Romesco is a delicious, Spanish sauce made with almonds and roasted peppers, blended with vinegar, paprika and quality olive oil. It’s simple, fresh, and silky smooth.

Blending also emulsifies the mixture into a creamier, cohesive sauce. A satisfying mouthfeel without the added calories, as opposed to making a dairy-based dressing.

Layering Complexity with Additional Ingredients

There’s plenty of sauces/pantry staples you probably have hiding in the back of your fridge that would be the perfect ingredient to round out a vinaigrette. Mustard is a common ingredient, but we could get a little more creative. A teaspoon of white miso or tahini adds umami, gochujang or sriracha sauce for some heat, toasted sesame oil for aromatics, pomegranate molasses for a touch of sweetness. Pesto, or even the leftover marinade from a jar of artichokes. Use your imagination!

 Decisions, decisions! Start with a basic ratio of 3 parts high-quality extra virgin olive oil to 1 part acid and go from there.

Herbs are Life

Les herbes c’est la vie, That’s what my French culinary instructor used to say. Herbs are so under-utilized in the average home cook’s kitchen! Dried seasonings and spices are great, but there’s no substitute for the vibrancy that herbs can bring to a dish. Minced parsley, cilantro, dill, etc. are all a cheap and simple way to turn to a boring vinaigrette into something fresh and dynamic. You can even blend the herbs into a beautiful green sauce.

Although fresh herbs are an incredible ingredient to keep on hand for any dish, they’re not always accessible! That’s where our herbaceous flavored oils come into play. Pressing fresh herbs extracts the oil from the leaves to preserve their pungent, fresh flavor. That’s what makes Basil Olive Oil our most popular! For this gorgeous oil, 5,000 tons of fresh basil are run through the mill every harvest with our hand-picked Tuscan olives.

Recipe Inspiration

With all this new info, we hope you can awaken from the mundane, daily dressed greens into something refreshing and delicious. A gourmet, healthy vinaigrette should freshen up a tired palate and make those 4 daily servings a little less daunting and repetitive. So if you need somewhere to start, here’s some great recipes to inspire your next side salad.

Roasted Autumn Salad with Romesco Sauce

Pickled Blackberry, Fig & Blue Cheese Salad

Beet and Tangerine Salad

Ultra Garlic Sauce


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