Balsamic Vinaigrette ♭

Real balsamic vinegar is a deep brown vinegar that is made from unfermented grapes. It is aged in barrels for months or even years, and it can be quite expensive. It has a distinctive, bold, complex flavor and a tart aftertaste. It has become a popular ingredient in food preparations, especially salad dressings and marinades. It is a low-fat alternative in a heart-healthy diet. Scientific studies have indicated that it helps lower cholesterol, aids in digestion, supports weight loss, is diabetes friendly, may help with hypertension, and may even contribute to a glowing complexion.

The following is a non-fat, sodium-free salad dressing that captures the essence of a well made vinaigrette

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp brown <sugar>
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (or more, as needed)

Put all ingredients except the xanthan gum into a blender bowl and buzz at its highest rate for one minute. While blending, add the xanthan gum to the mixture and continue for another 30 seconds. Put into a bottle and refrigerate overnight before using. Use in salads just like other dressings.

First Lieutenant (Louie) Salad ✠

On my first trip to San Francisco, Thanksgiving weekend 1962, having just earlier that month passed my Ph.D orals at Caltech, I remember having Crab Louis at the then-famous (now closed) DiMaggio’s Grotto on Fisherman’s wharf. Eating crab for the first time, I didn’t ponder too much about the name at the time, but most likely assumed that the preparation had been invented by some French Chef named Louis, because it was pronounced LOO-EE. I later learned that it originated somewhere on the West Coast in the early 1900s, and that both San Francisco and Seattle lay claim to its discovery.

I remembered this experience one day not long ago while trying to decide what to prepare for an evening meal. Something light, not too heavy, and, to be sure, within my dietetic guidelines. I had shrimp thawing and so I decided to try to recapture the DiMaggio’s experience by making a Shrimp Salad in the Louis style. Louis dressing, I found, is much like Thousand Island Dressing. Both dressings are pink and share similar ingredients, but the Louis is smoother, less sweet, tangier, and delivers more kick than its chunkier cousin.

I served a brief time in the U.S. Army as a Second, then First Lieutenant. In army-speak, I was a “Louie”. My Louie dressing deserved a promotion also, I thought. It is made in the classic style, but without salt, sugar, or fat.

First Louie Dressing
  • ¼ cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Catch-Up
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne chile
  • 1 tsp <brown sugar> blend
  • ½ tsp Tony Cachere’s® salt free seasoning
The Salad
  • 10 large shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, and halved
  • ½ head Romaine lettuce, washed, in bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled, shelled and wedged
  • 6 black olives, low-sodium, chopped
  • 1 oz parsley, chopped

Combine all of the ingredients for the 1st Louie dressing and chill it until serving time.

Slice the eggs using an egg slicer and cut the tomatoes into 6 wedges each.

Wash the lettuce and pat dry on toweling or use a salad spinner, or if you have an old pillow case, put the lettuce in it, go out into the back yard and sling it around, overhead, any way, until the residual water is removed. You don’t want wet lettuce.

Tear or chop the lettuce into pieces of the desired size and arrange on chilled salad plates. Place the shrimp on top of the lettuce.

Add the tomato wedges and hard boiled egg slices over the shrimp and lettuce.

Spoon the 1st Louie dressing over the salad.

This recipe makes two entrée-sized salads.


Substitute or combine different lettuces, such as iceberg, butter lettuce, red lettuce, arugula, or radicchio. Or, for convenience, use a packaged salad mix.

Add other vegetables on top of the lettuce(s), such as marinaded asparagus, artichoke, or cucumber.

Mix the salad greens and vegetables with 1st Louie dressing rather than serving it on top.

Serve the 1st Louie dressing on the side rather than on top of the salad.

Use bottled Thousand Island dressing rather than 1st Louie dressing if you are in a hurry.