Last Updated on December 20, 2020
Why would anyone want to write about Thousand Island Dressing? It’s yucky! It’s that reddish stuff that sits on the salad bar and congeals because no one wants it, and rightly so. It’s the “secret” sauce on the Big Mac and has become so common that you probably don’t even notice it on your sandwich anymore. That’s a pity because this is a grand dame of salad dressings with an interesting and honorable history.
Thousand Island Dressing is named for the archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River. Some of the islands are very small indeed. The one pictured above supports a single tree and two bushes. The dressing was popularized by May Irwin, a Canadian vaudeville star in the 1890s. She had a home in Grindstone Island, one of the Thousand Islands. She said that the dressing reminded her of the Thousand Islands, and enjoyed the dressing so much that she requested the recipe from Sophia LaLonde, a fishing guide’s wife who frequently made the dressing for her husband. Miss Irwin then gave the recipe to George Boldt, the proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, who instructed his the hotel’s maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu. In 1950 the dressing became a standard and started its decline into the gloppy mess we have today.
One of the things we do at The Good Plate is to reconstruct packaged foods, so they taste better, and don’t have the preservatives common in packaged foods. I knew that venerable Thousand Island Dressing deserved a better place, and making it from scratch would make it one of my favorites, especially for seafood salads.
I made a crab salad for the dressing, and some Balsamic Toasts to go with them. This was amid Spane and his friend making Play Dough on the stove. There are little bits of homemade Play Dough all over the place. Time to clean!
Thousand Island Dressing
- ¼ cup good mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic Ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Homade Chili Sauce
- 2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 egg, hardboiled and finely chopped
- Boil the egg, peel and let cool. Then chop finely. Set aside.
- Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and add the chopped egg.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend before serving.
If you want really good flavor for this, use Homade Chili Sauce, and
Heinz Limited Edition Tomato Ketchup Blended with Balsamic Vinegar
or, even better, San Marzano Earthquake Ketchup. Both make it special.
You can omit the eggs if you don't want them. If you don't like capers, remove those. If you are sensitive, remove the horseradish, although it does not make the dressing very "hot".
The Balsamic Toasts were a last-minute idea as I was preparing the salad. We had some wonderful Ciabatta bread leftover from Stuffed Ciabatta Garlic Bread, that I wanted to use.
- 1 Ciabatta bread
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- freshly cracked pepper
- Slice the bread into one inch thick slices. Toast the slices in a pan, or on a griddle.
- Mix the remaining ingredients, and using a pastry brush, brush the mixture onto the toasts. Be generous!
You could add red pepper flakes if you want some heat.