Slightly sweet and tangy, with a bold tomato flavour, Catalina Salad Dressing is an easy way to make a boring salad extraordinary. With its bright red hue, and its rich flavour, it’s no wonder it was one of the most popular dressings of the 60s and 70s!
CATALINA SALAD DRESSING
Growing up in the 70s and 80s in a small fishing and logging town in Newfoundland left very little room for salads. Most of the salads my mom prepared were either pasta salads or potato salads. In the event we did have salad, it was usually basic and referred to as Tossed Salad, usually with Catalina Salad Dressing.
It consisted of iceberg lettuce. Always! There was no such thing as mixed greens or other green leafy lettuces. There was romaine, of course, but that was only ever used for Caesar Salad.
Mom’s Tossed Salad also had quartered or diced tomatoes. There would be diced cheddar cheese, and diced deli ham. I can’t remember there being anything else in there. My dad and sister read my posts regularly, so I’m sure I’ll get a text message if I forgot something.
The dressings were always store-bought. And, she would place those bottles right in the middle of the table so that we could all choose whatever we fancied. There was always Catalina Salad Dressing. I think that was her favourite. And, there was always French Salad Dressing and Thousand Island. Adventurous, right!?
CATALINA VERSUS RUSSIAN DRESSING
So many people confuse these two dressings. And, so many people don’t! It depends on where you live in the world, and what brand you buy. Let me explain.
They look very similar in colour, although some versions of Russian Dressing are a much darker red. They’re both made with tomato or a tomato product, like ketchup. And, they’re both tangy and a little sweet.
Here in Canada, Kraft is the largest supplier of store-bought, bottled salad dressings. If you look at their Catalina versus their Russian, you’ll see exactly what I mean. In other countries, or if you’re comparing other brands, Russian Salad Dressing can look lighter in colour and more creamy. That’s because those brands use a mayonnaise base.
To be perfectly honest, you can use both of the Kraft versions the same way. There are slight differences in the taste, but the textures are relatively the same. Besides, they both taste great, especially on a 1980s Tossed Salad!
- Canola Oil – Canola is a great choice, because it’s very mild. In fact, there’s almost no flavour at all. If you need to substitute use safflower oil or sunflower oil. Don’t use flavoured oils like olive or coconut.
- Ketchup – Any brand will do, but anything but Heinz or French’s is blasphemy in our home!
- Sugar – Do you need this? Yes, because you need the sweetness to offset the tangy and bitter taste of the vinegar.
- Red Wine Vinegar – We use this a lot, so we always have it, but you can substitute with Sherry vinegar if you have that.
- Worcestershire Sauce – This adds smokiness, saltiness, and tanginess.
- Seasonings – All of these help to round out the flavours. They are onion powder, paprika, salt, and ground black pepper.
HOW TO MAKE CATALINA SALAD DRESSING:
Are you ready for this? It’s the easiest thing you will do today! Measure all of the ingredients into a bowl. Whisk all of the ingredients together well, ensuring that the oil is completely incorporated into the other ingredients.
Transfer sauce to a mason jar. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to ensure that the ingredients are married together well.
When ready to use, shake the jar vigorously to make sure none of the seasonings have settled to the bottom of the jar. Will keep refrigerated for 5-7 days.
Catalina Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Measure all of the ingredients into a bowl.
- Whisk all of the ingredients together well, ensuring that the oil is completely incorporated into the other ingredients.
- Transfer sauce to a mason jar. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to ensure that the ingredients are married together well.
- When ready to use, shake the jar vigorously to make sure none of the seasonings have settled to the bottom of the jar. Will keep refrigerated for 5-7 days.