Dirty Martini Salad Dressing is Everything an Olive-Lover Needs

Dirty Martini Salad Dressing is Everything an Olive-Lover Needs

Confession: I was an olive hater until my mid-twenties. Something about the piquant brine felt like an attack on my palate, and I would pass the salty gems off to any and all dinner companions.

Saying this now deeply wounds me, as I have made a full recovery from my olive-hating days and have gone full-tilt into olive wonderland. I have at least two kinds of olives in my refrigerator at all times, and when I’m tasked with a charcuterie board (which is not as often as I’d like), the olives are always out to play with the bevy of meats and cheeses.

My favorite vehicle for olives is, of course, the dirty martini (with gin, duh). The resurgence of the cocktail has been a peak food trend for me, and I truly couldn’t be happier. Skip the lemon twist—it’s totally fine and serviceable, just not what I’m after—and hand me a whole cup of olives (or at the very least, an extra skewer). If my martini is clear, there’s not enough brine in it for me; I’m after luxe, oily swirls cutting through the dryness of the vermouth.

While I’m attempting to turn my happy hour drink into a full-blown snack, I’m usually eyeing appetizers like an anchovy toast, or a garlicky little gem salad—flavors that are acidic, punchy, and bright (the perfect complement to briny olives and smooth gin). After doing this song and dance a number of times, I wondered how bonkers it would be to just…combine all of these flavors in a jar and call it a dressing? Turns out, not bonkers at all.

I invited all the usual players to the table: smooth, piquant Dijon mustard, fresh garlic, and olive oil. The twist (ha!) here is using a heavy, heavy pour of olive brine in place of where a sharp vinegar or lemon juice would normally be. That saline goodness adds a rich, round depth of flavor that I haven’t been able to find or replicate in other salad dressings. It’s good enough all on its own, tossed with a simple bed of little gem lettuce, though it’d be just as excellent drizzled over roasted vegetables or used to marinate a chicken. The gin is optional, but I do suggest using a botanical-forward non-alcoholic beverage if you’re skipping the gin (I like Seedlip) because the aromatics add a finishing punch. Either way, this dressing comes with easy prep and a dynamic pay-off. Make this dressing when you want your salad to feel like the main character at the table.

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What’re you pairing this dressing with? Give us the details in the comments.

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