Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

These Two Vintage Vinaigrettes Made Our Good Seasons Cruets (and Hearts) So Happy

by 
Betsy and Jen Karetnick
February 25, 2021

We were lucky. It was the ‘70s and we were being raised by intrepid eaters, one of whom is an avid gardener and self-taught cook who learned by reading the Julia Child bible and spending Saturday afternoons with Graham Kerr.

We ate mostly at home due to that decade’s energy-crisis economy. On occasion, however, given our proximity to New York City from our hometown of Livingston, New Jersey, we were treated to feasts in the most glorious culturally diverse locales, giving us international palates even though we didn’t yet have passports. So yes, we were fortunate to have a home, health, and food on the table. It’s just that some days we didn’t appreciate the food part – which included salad at every dinner, and sometimes lunch, too – as much as we should have. 

Some days we wanted fast food hamburgers like the other kids got. Some days our mouths watered for Pop-Tarts. Some days we craved Cheetos. We also had our eyes set, probably because of our home’s salad emphasis, on Good Seasons Italian dressing, a holy grail of vinaigrette that you reconstituted yourself. It came with its own cruet! It looked cool, and to us it tasted even cooler. And for whatever reason, that was pretty much the only pre-packaged product we were granted. On occasion, our constant harangue netted that Good Seasons packet of goodness, probably when it was on sale, or the budget yielded an extra couple of dollars. We certainly had a couple of those cruets in the cabinet. To them we would add the requisite oil, water (water, to salad dressing?), vinegar and the precious seasonings. Ah, the bliss of a manufactured product!

But in general, our mother, Naomi, celebrated good seasons literally, by prepping and serving whatever was in season as well as avoiding most of the store shelves we would have preferred she peruse. That meant our winter salads and side dishes might comprise anything from the occasional endive, bitter frisée, and white asparagus – attainable back then even for those monitoring their funds – to shelf-stable stalwarts like cabbage and celery with ubiquitous iceberg lettuce. 

To dress those salads, Mom had two versions of vinaigrettes, with roots in the French vernacular. We always called them the house dressings. One is green; the other, red. Both have mustard, which back then came from a seemingly never depleted tin of Colman’s brand dry mustard. Both are rich with herbs. Both predate the nation’s later obsession with olive oil, and used corn or vegetable oils. We also love the simplicity of olive oil dressed salads, but still keep room in our pantries for a neutral oil, too – these days everything from canola to avocado to grapeseed.

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Frankly, we like to make Naomi’s house dressings either way, and find their uses stretch way beyond salad. They’re excellent marinades for chunks of chicken that could be threaded on a skewer. A flank steak definitely benefits from an overnight bath. And for the lovers of side salads – potato, macaroni, bean – they replace mayonnaise, which is also good news for those with egg allergies.

And despite what our adolescent selves thought, we’re also pretty sure that Naomi’s house dressings are the best vinaigrettes those Good Seasons cruets ever really saw.

Now, before we get to the recipe, a quick history (and cooking!) lesson:

Naomi’s house dressings celebrated two of the greatest kitchen inventions of the 20th century: the blender and the food processor. The blender first arrived in 1922 to aid in soda fountain drinks, but it makes a perfectly delicious, almost frothy, dressing. It’s a bit more incorporated than a whisked dressing and certainly thickens more quickly, so a couple of quick twirls might do the job. 

With a food processor, the ingredients have to be added in an order that will allow them to be broken down appropriately and then mixed together. Herbs and pieces of garlic are more visible in the processor version. We prefer to use the “pulse” button to get the right consistency here.

Note that for the red version, a high-powered blender like a Vitamix is actually too powerful and turns the dressing brown. If that’s what you have on hand, you might want to finely mince all the herbs and hand-whisk instead, even though there’s more knife work involved.

Naomi's Red and Green House Vinaigrette Dressings

 | 
 | 
Each makes 1 cup

Ingredients

For the Green

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup packed cup mixed dill & flat leaf parsley, modestly destemmed and loosely chopped

1/2 cup neutral oil

3 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-1 1/2 tsp Coleman’s dry mustard (substitute Dijon mustard)

1/4 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Ground pepper to taste

For the Red

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup packed cup mixed dill & flat leaf parsley, modestly de-stemmed and loosely chopped

1/2 cup neutral oil

1/4 cup white or red vinegar

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Ground pepper to taste

 | 
 | 
Each makes 1 cup

Ingredients

For the Green

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup packed cup mixed dill & flat leaf parsley, modestly destemmed and loosely chopped

1/2 cup neutral oil

3 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-1 1/2 tsp Coleman’s dry mustard (substitute Dijon mustard)

1/4 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Ground pepper to taste

For the Red

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup packed cup mixed dill & flat leaf parsley, modestly de-stemmed and loosely chopped

1/2 cup neutral oil

1/4 cup white or red vinegar

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Ground pepper to taste

Ingredients

For the Green

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup packed cup mixed dill & flat leaf parsley, modestly destemmed and loosely chopped

1/2 cup neutral oil

3 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-1 1/2 tsp Coleman’s dry mustard (substitute Dijon mustard)

1/4 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Ground pepper to taste

For the Red

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup packed cup mixed dill & flat leaf parsley, modestly de-stemmed and loosely chopped

1/2 cup neutral oil

1/4 cup white or red vinegar

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 - 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

Ground pepper to taste

Directions

For the Green

If using a food processor, blitz the garlic briefly. Add the herbs and blend until fine. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

If using a blender, add all ingredients and blend for 10 seconds, then another 5 seconds at a time to get the right consistency.

Feeling like you just want to be super efficient? Take your green dressing and mix in the 1/4 cup ketchup, which will net you a nice red. But to make the red as it was born to be, from scratch, here's the original red recipe.


For the Red

If using a food processor, blitz the garlic briefly. Add the herbs and blend until fine. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

If using a blender, add all ingredients and blend for 10 seconds, then another 5 seconds at a time to get the right consistency.

As noted above, if a bright red color is desired, forego the appliances all together and work your whisk.

Note: The red version has a thicker consistency than the green version.

About the Author

Betsy and Jen Karetnick

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