Grandma Lena’s Magic Salad  Dressing

October  4, 2022
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

My husband’s grandmother, Lena, lived to be almost 100. When I met her she lived alone, having outlived two husbands. She was proud of her cooking although she did not cook much. She did make a salad each night, and told me the secret of her delicious salad dressing. She combined 1 Tbsp each: catsup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish, and sugar. Everyone who tasted it asked for the recipe, she told me proudly. They were always surprised to hear the simple list of ingredients. I loved it too, and made my own batch many times.

This is an updated version of her recipe, with a few of my favorite ingredients added: crème fraiche and green pepper jelly. I also substituted agave nectar for the white sugar she used. Her salads were quite simple: green lettuce, chopped tomato, and maybe some chopped green onion. I think my version is delicious on a crunchy salad of mixed fresh greens such as romaine, baby spinach, and shredded cabbage. I like adding a little chopped apple and some toasted walnuts. And some thinly sliced sweet red onion. Delicious!

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons your favorite catsup
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite mayonaise
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon a good green pepper or red pepper jelly
  1. Combnie all ingredients with a whisk or using an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gingerroot
  • AppleAnnie
  • dymnyno
  • Sagegreen
  • JoanG
I love food! I love to cook, eat, read about food, write about food, and enjoy meals with friends and family. I have been writing a food memoir for the past decade and am just about done! I epsecially love to create recipes using seasonal and local produce. I love to travel and wherever I go I shop at markets, cook, and try to take a cooking class.

9 Reviews

Crispini March 7, 2012
This is a snappy dressing! I stumbled across this on the site and thought it would be perfect for a green salad with hard boiled eggs and baby shrimp. I ended up making your Grandma Lena's classic version due to the ingredients I had on hand. I went back and doubled the mayo though, because the horseradish was a bit too intense for us. Really great combo, and it definitely perked up the salad. Thanks!
gingerroot March 29, 2011
I'm definitely enjoying experimenting with the peppery heat of horseradish and this dressing sounds delicious. Saving and looking forward to trying this. Thanks for sharing such a lovely story and recipe.
JoanG March 30, 2011
THanks gignerrot. I hope you like it!
AppleAnnie March 28, 2011
Do you think Grandma Lena's longevity owes something to her daily salad? Sounds like a complex and delicious salad dressing.
JoanG March 29, 2011
Maybe its the magic of a daily dose of horseradish!
dymnyno March 27, 2011
It sounds like a great zesty(like her) dressing!
JoanG March 28, 2011
Yes, it is! Thanks Dymyno.
Sagegreen March 27, 2011
I love the story! I bet the dressing is wonderful, too.
JoanG March 28, 2011
THanks Sagegreen! It was fun to recall this recipe when i read about the horseradish challenge!