Lou Malnati's Salad Dressing Recipe as Published in the 60's

Earlier this winter, I wrote about the old Lou Malnati's menu and mentioned that as I was waiting around for my pie to finish up, I spied an old Chicago Tribune article posted on the wall that included the original Lou Malnati's Italian Salad Dressing Recipe.  The Tribune reporter called it "prized".  We were set to host a little pizza party over the weekend, so I figured I'd give it a shot.  Here's the article as seen through my mobile phone's camera.
I'm not a wine drinker, so the fact that the recipe called for Burgundy wine didn't strike me as odd.  I went shopping at Angelo Caputos in Addison - a really incredible shopping experience - and when I got to the wine section I found Burgundy wine was carried ONLY in those HUGE jugs.  And they were dirt cheap.  The only issue is that needed just 4 ounces.  We ended up with a whole-lotta-wine that Nat won't drink.

I've taken the recipe and modified it a bit by eliminating the percentages (60% of 32 ounces is 19.2 ounces if you want to be perfect and true to the original).    I did, however, stick with the "quart" as specified by the old Tribune piece.  Mine turned out a pretty shade of red.  The photo is a bit misleading - it isn't red like French Dressing, but has a redish tint.  Quite tasty, too!
Lou Malnati's Italian Salad Dressing
18 oz Olive Oil
10 oz Red Wine Vinegar
4 oz Burgundy Wine
4 cloves of garlic, cut in halves
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tablesppons salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar


  1. jake,poach some pears! :) since the weather is still chilly, you could make some wassail too!

    Poached pear recipe with red wine and spices.

    * 3/4 cup water
    * 1/4 cup dry red wine
    * 1 stick (3 inches) cinnamon
    * 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    * pinch salt
    * 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    * 2 thin slices lemon
    * 4 ripe pears, halved lengthwise, peeled, cored

    In a saucepan, combine water, wine, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, sugar, and lemon. Heat over medium low heat until mixture begins to boil. Add pears and cook, covered, over low heat for 15 to 30 minutes, or until pears are tender. Cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill thoroughly.
    Serves 4 to 6.

  2. @denise - what do you do with them? eat them? Or do you put them on something?

  3. really well chilled poached pears are so good. you can eat them all alone or slice them into a salad or dessert-perhaps a tart glazed with a simple syrup or even an apricot glaze.. try it, you will like it! :)

  4. Is the taste comparable to the restaurant's dressing?

  5. I remember this Trib article from the mid-late 1980s! I saw the original Trib article at the pick up door at Malnati's in Buffalo Grove.
    I used to buy the jug of Burgundy (I think Carlo Rossi) and make several bottles at a time for Christmas gifts. I'd buy bottles olive oil, wash off the labels and reuse them for the dressing. I based my percentages on the volume of the wine.
    I lost my recipe some years ago. I searched the web and finally contacted Malnati's. I was told that I was mistaken, "Malnati's would never allow their Red Wine Dressing to be published."
    Thank you for your post. I will be making a batch today.

  6. That's pretty funny that they would say that, Angela. I guess one of their PR people got too friendly with the Tribune reporter and gave out the recipe!

    I think they sell this stuff in their take-out stores, but now there's no reason to buy it!

  7. dump some of this stuff on top of chicken breasts in a slow cooker overnight.... il gusto di paradiso

  8. You just saved me from making a trip to Lou Mal's. Tastes like it should! Thanks!

  9. Had dinner at Lou Malnati's two days ago while visiting friends in the city and we loved their salad with this dressing. Thank you for the recipe. I had to tweak mine a bit since I could not find a Burgundy wine when I had to make this dressing yesterday but will definitely try it again when I head back to Montana next week. Featured your recipe in my blog by the way. I hope that is okay with you.

  10. There's a chance that "Burgundy" in the context of the 60's was actually meant to be wine from Burgundy (French Pinot Noir) and not cheap Californian plonk wine.

    Not sure you'd want to spend what Burgundy costs just to make salad dressing... and I truly doubt Malnati's then or now would do the same.. but just as a point of ponderance.

  11. Question about the garlic: I've eaten the salad dressing a lot, but I don't think I've EVER eaten a half clove of garlic. I know it was published this way, but are we sure that's what Lou's really does? Thanks!!

  12. I didn't have a burgundy wine on hand so I substituted merlot. I halved the recipe, put everything in the food processor for a few minutes and tasted. So good! After it sat for a half hour, it was even better. Great dressing and also probably a good marinade for chicken. I'll definitely be making this again.

  13. After reading this, my family and I decided to go to Lou Malnati's in Lincolnwood tonight. One of the few sit down restaurants they have. Of course, I had to order the salad, just because of this article. It was everything you all talked about and more! The salad alone was enough to feed the three of us and bring home leftovers(YAY!). And, i can now take a short cut with this recipe, since they sell the dressing in bottles at the restaurant! $6.49, but worth it! My husband had one of the thin crust pizzas, which we also shared, and my daughter had the deep dish pizza. Yes, leftovers came home for tomorrow! Thanks for writing this and letting us know about the salad. I usually don't care for vinegar based anything, but this dressing was good!


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