Basque Garlic Salad Dressing

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Several years ago when I lived in Las Vegas, I had to make a few trips north for work, to a small mining town called Elko, Nevada. You have to fly into Salt Lake City and then drive several hours, or take a small plane from SLC. I was working as the buyer for the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association at the time, and one of our locations was the California Trail Interpretive Center. It was a nice little museum, and I had to go up a few times a year with the executive director and the director of retail.

The highlight of these trips was dinner at the Star Hotel. Built in 1910 as a hotel and restaurant, it now serves as a Basque bar and restaurant. The people are nice, the food is good and plentiful, and everything is served family style except the entrees.

Each diner orders their entree, then the food starts coming to the table. First, they bring out cabbage soup, bread, and salad with garlic dressing. Then with the entrees, they bring out beans, spaghetti, french fries, and a vegetable (the three times I ate there, it was green beans, but it may vary). Seriously–tons of food. If you leave the Star hungry, it’s your own fault.

To be honest though, my favorite was always the salad. It was just iceberg lettuce in a creamy garlic dressing. Believe me–I know. It looks like nothing special, but oh boy. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

I made this for Stephan last week and he couldn’t believe how good it was.

basque dressing

It’s also incredibly simple to make. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, chopped, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Stick it in the fridge overnight to chill and let the flavors meld.


When you’re ready to serve, cut a head of iceberg lettuce into squares and dump it into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss it together. It will look like there’s not enough dressing to coat the lettuce, but unless your head of lettuce is particularly large, it will be fine. Once all of the lettuce is coated, you’re finished! Serve with bread and soup or pasta. Could you add vegetables and other salad fixings? Absolutely! But do yourself a favor and try it this way first.

finished salad 2

Basque Garlic Dressing:

1 T olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 T apple cider vinegar

1/2 t salt

1/4 t garlic powder

1/2 c mayonnaise

1 medium head iceberg lettuce

Whisk the first six ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Cut lettuce into squares and toss with dressing. Boom–dead simple.

If you’d like to check out the Star for yourself, their website is

If you’re in the area, definitely check them out–you won’t regret it!


2 thoughts on “Basque Garlic Salad Dressing

  1. After tasting, added just a spoonful of sugar to mellow out the vinegar. Taste great, recipe made just slightly less than 6oz.

  2. I’ve used this recipe for years! I would suggest using romaine lettuce as it stays crisper longer. All seven of my grandchildren devour this before their main course!

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