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Can anyone help me duplicate Potbelly Sandwich Works' fat-free vinaigrette dressing? I'm NOT a cook, so I have no idea where to start. It's fairly clear, somewhat sweet, and based on the lack of "globules", it appears to have little to no oil in it.

Is it possible to make a vinaigrette with no oil?

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My understanding is that most of those (aside from mustard, perhaps) will add some kind of fat. This is a fat-free dressing. And since it's clear, I know they didn't use mustard. Maybe it's just plain rice vinegar with some sugar. Guess I'll have to play with different combos. –  EmmyS Dec 12 '11 at 21:55
    
Can you give us a frame of reference, i.e. another more common dressing or recipe which tastes similar? I realize that they have stores all across the U.S., but for those of us who haven't eaten there, "clear and somewhat sweet" doesn't narrow it down very much. –  Aaronut Dec 13 '11 at 2:53
    
@EmmyS: I know you said fat-free, but since the US actually allows things with less than half a gram of fat per serving to be labeled as fat-free, I figure the dressing might well have a little bit of oil in it, and so it may indeed have an emulsifier to prevent you from seeing the oil. (And plenty of emulsifiers don't add fat - honey and mustard are notable ones in everyday kitchens, and soy lecithin is common in many prepared foods and can be bought for home use too.) –  Jefromi Dec 13 '11 at 6:19

1 Answer 1

Emmy,

I don't have Potbelly's specific recipe, but most "fat-free" vinagrette dressings rely heavily on corn syrup as a thickener and to dilute the vinegar. Given the sweetness you noticed with the Potbelly dressing, I would guess this to be the case with theirs as well. For example, these are the ingredients in WishBone's Fat Free Red Wine Vinagrette:

Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Red Wine Vinegar, Cabernet Sauvignon Wine, Sugar, Salt, Soybean Oil (Adds An Insignificant Amout of Fat), Garlic, Onion, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Xanthan Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Calcium Disodium Edta (Used to Protect Quality), Natural Flavor, Sulfiting Agents.

Even "homemade" recipes involve large amounts of sugar: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/saladdressings/r/fatfreesalad1.htm

So in general you're looking for a recipe which involves corn syrup + vinegar + spices. Beyond that, online recipes abound.

Also, if you're looking for fat-free dressings for health reasons, you need to ask yourself if eating several ounces of corn syrup is really an improvement over a little olive oil.

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Potbelly's Non-Fat Vinaigrette has 12 g of sugar per 2.5 oz portion, by far more than any of their other dressings. potbelly.com/pdf/Potbelly_Nutritional_Information.pdf –  Michael Hoffman Dec 14 '11 at 7:17

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