Tag Archives: balsamic vinegar

Simple Swap: EVOO & Balsamic Vinegar

30 Aug

I may have gone to Italy to study cinema (see pretty much any post from July 2011), but some of the biggest lessons I took away were about wine and olive oil. I was taught all about them both in perhaps the world’s most revered places for these products – Chianti.

Because of this, and lack of alternatives, I came home with a newly developed taste for olive oil and vinegar as my salad dressing.

Italians love simplicity in their meals which is why you will never see salad dressing over there (let alone a variety of dressing choices). And no, they don’t use “Italian” dressing with little red and white bits of who-knows-what that settle at the bottom of the bottle. Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That’s it.

The great part about adapting to the salad style of Italians is that 1. I save money on salad dressing because a little bit of oil goes a LONG way and 2. I’ve made a lifelong simple swap.

Extra virgin olive oil has 120 calories per every tablespoon (which is really all you need for a regular salad) and balsamic vinegar has about 5 calories for every teaspoon (so feel free to use a few teaspoons!).

Granted, olive oil has more calories than a serving size of American Italian dressing, but it has 100% less salt than “Italian” dressing and 100% less sugar (that means no salt and no sugar – at all!).

On top of that, Extra Virgin Olive Oil falls in the same category as avocados – the “good fats.” It’s also full of antioxidants and vitamins. But, it is still a fat and high-ish in calories so you do have to keep in mind that a little really does go a long way (you shouldn’t eat a whole avocado in one sitting and your lettuce shouldn’t be dripping with oil).

AANNNDD, by using oil and vinegar, you can customize your dressing’s taste. Maybe you’re an oil-only person, or vinegar only, or 2 parts oil 1 part vinegar – you adjust the taste to your liking!

One important thing to remember – use high-quality olive oil as your dressing/dip for bread. Don’t use the cheapest bottle at the supermarket – that’s for cooking (sauteing, using in your pasta water, etc.). It doesn’t taste very good as a dressing. Higher quality olive oil – from a local winery or specialty company – is less processed and leaves more of the natural flavor in the finished product.