Monday, May 21, 2007

Salad Dressing

I don't know if I have mentioned here that I am completely obsessed with Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing. I mean, I could probably chug the stuff. We have eaten it every day for, oh, I don't know, 10 years or so. And it isn't just me that joneses for it. My kids, my husband... all of us.

About a month ago I wrote a letter to Paul Newman's company, demanding that they send me the recipe. I can't keep on buying this stuff, I huffed. It is $3.50 a pint and we eat it every stinkin' day and I am going broke. My kids college fund? Ate it with kalamata olives and feta cheese. That trip to Vietnam we keep talking about? Doused it on romaine lettuce and hearts of palm. The new kitchen cabinets? Poured over chopped tomatoes and cukes.


I got an almost sympathetic note back telling me that, NO, they wouldn't give me the recipe. But if I wanted, they'd send a couple of coupons. That isn't going to buy us plane tickets, but ok. I got an envelope with $2 bucks worth of coupons in the mail.

Now, before you think I am completely insane, (too late, you say...) I have spent the last 10 years trying to reproduce the recipe. I have the list of ingredients from the bottle. I have done some online sleuthing and discovered that Paul marinates his garlic and onions in vinegar before mixing it with the oils so that he doesn't have to use preservatives. I have tested and mixed and chopped and whisked, to no avail.

And it's not that I can't make a perfectly delicious homemade dressing. From a French uncle I learned about lemon, garlic and olive oil with kosher salt, all crushed with a wooden spoon in the bottom of a wooden bowl. It is fantastic.

But for some reason, whatever the addictive quality of the NOOO&V (Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar) is, I couldn't replicate it.

Last night though, the Holy Spirit, friend of fermented grapes everywhere, came to me and I whisked this together:

1 clove crushed garlic
2 T finely minced red onion
1/8 c red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 t prepared dijon mustard
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. (For us, lots!)
1/2 cup pure olive oil (not extra virgin) (or to taste)

Add everything except the oil together and whip with a whisk. Taste! If you like the flavors, add the oil and whisk to emulsify. Today I quadrupled the recipe and made it a big Ball jar.

It's good. Really good. And my family said it kicked Newman's ass.

Ya hear that Paul?!?!


Iohannes Michahel said...

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped, then mashed into paste with kosher salt
2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 roasted red pepper - mashed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more or less - depending upon the size of the pepper and how thick you want the dressing; vinegar amount may also need adjusting)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Oh, my.

This sounds utterly delicious.

I am going to give it a try!


All Love+

Mary Beth said...

Oh, golly, Rachel. The more I read you the more I am certain we are sisters somehow. I ADORE Newman's Own. And none of those others, thanks. Oil and Vinegar plz.

I cannot WAIT to try it.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...


I doused my salad with this new concoction last night to general accolades from the family. My brother swears that I should bottle the stuff. Hmmmm... sounds a little like how Paul Newman got started.

Anyway, give it a try and tell me what you think.

My version last night was with yellow onion, not red. Less sweet. And wicked good.

Here's the BIG recipe if you want to make a batch big enough for a few salads:

4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, minced fine (red or yellow... or vidalia if you like it sweet)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
scant 2 tsp of prepared dijon mustard
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Whisk together, then add

2 cups pure olive oil.

mix or shake to emulsify.

Pour and swoon.

Marcella said...

Hi Rachel,
Do you add any herbs or spices to your dressing? I am also a huge fan of NO products and especially the dressings. I was reading this label:
And trying to figure out what herbs and spices. I know salt and pepper, looks like a spattering of red chili flakes, maybe dried garlic or onion. Anyone else?

Also, NO cookbook on Amazon. Friend has it and says there's a few variations and hints given for the OO & Vinegar dressing. Thanks for your recipe!

Anonymous said...

I am basking in OO&V heaven right now. I have been trying to figure out what the heck could make that stuff so good to no avail. Thought maybe Paul must have stirred it with his gorgeous finger or something to give it the edge. I also think Paul should share the wealth. Will give your recipe a try and let you know if I am converted or not. It sounds delish and probably could whip the butt of any prevailing competing dressing you could buy off the shelf. It's only NO for me and I like you only like the OO&V so cheer's to you for posting this.
Leah M

Rachel Nguyen said...

Hey Leah,

I have to say that I am still a huge newmans own olive oil and vinegar fan. We still eat it on our salads every day. The homemade version is good, but for every day, we go for the bottle, lol.

Let me know how you make out with the recipe and thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

hi- inspiring article. I've been trying to figure out the spices as well as addictive quality and, well, it's sugar- right?

Rachel Nguyen said...

There isn't any sugar in NO Olive Oil and Vinegar. I think there is in the other varieties.

I don't know why it is so addictive, LOL. But I have been eating the stuff every day for YEARS now.

Anonymous said...

Question about your recipe:

after mixing, if not using immediately, does it need to be refrigerated to be kept?

I was wondering since NOOO&V does not.

BTW, thought you'd find this amusing, I'm sitting here at work, and I have a bottle of NOOO&V sitting here on my desk next to me, eagerly awaiting lunchtime... =)

MikeHunt said...

One of the spices is celery seed. I've been on a quest to find a good homemade version of this too! LOL, I take a small spoonful and 'taste' it as if it was wine. There is for sure celery seed.

Janine Payne said...

Ha ha, I had a good laugh over your narrative Rachel. I as well absolutely love that salad dressing and have a big problem paying that price for oil & vinegar and a few spices. And I have also been trying to replicate it but just can’t get it right, I keep a bottle of Numans Own for days when I run out of mine, and oh, it taste sooo good. I have quit trying to replicate it and have settled with what I have come up with, I now add Coconut Seasoning Sauce to mine and it tastes very good. Thanks for the laugh, I enjoyed the reading.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for a recipe for NOOOV as well. I'm looking forward to trying yours. The ratio of oil to vinegar in NOOOV is the standard ratio of .5 cup vinegar to 1.5 cups of oil. I just poured a 16 oz bottle of NO in a measuring cup and waited for it to settle out. I wonder how much water is in it. The ingredients list states it has water in it. there are three layers. the bottom, vinegar layer, middle layer, that I guess is a mixture of water spices and oil,then the top layer of oil. The top layer of pure oil is only 1 cup, the middle layer of oil, water, and spice mixture is 1/2 cup and the bottom pure layer of vinegar is 1/2 cup. The added water may be the reason that NO is less oily than other dressings and emulsifies easier when shaken up. I would start with around an 1/8 of a cup of water in a 16 oz batch and add more from there to get the 1/2 cup ratio of the middle layer mixture of water, oil, and spices. I have not tested this theory yet. I would be interested in hearing any other thoughts.

Anonymous said...

There are three liquids in a 16 oz bottle of nooov. I just poured on in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup. The bottom 1/2 cup is vinegar and spices that settle on the bottom. The top layer is 1 cup of oil. The middle layer is 1/2 cup mixture of what looks like water, oil, and spices. The ingredient list states that it has water added. I guess around 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water which may account for the reason that it is not as oily as other dressings.

TamsenGrace said...

Wow! I could hug you for posting this recipe! I'm vegetarian and I use NOOOV almost every day and I've never been able to duplicate it until now. I use it on everything but mostly I use it on roasted veggies and I love it on pasta. Thank you thank you thank you! Happy New Year! :-)