Cascone's Sweet Italian vs. Jasper's Italian Salad Dressing

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Hidden Valleys and Wish Bones can have the rest of the country, but when it comes to Italian dressing in Kansas City, there are really only two options: Jasper's and Cascone's. With nearly 100 years of operation between them, both have bottled signature dressings (they're available at Price Chopper). What perfect ammo for a battle to cover the city's salads! I grabbed a bag of mixed greens from the first week of my community supported agriculture membership at Bad Seed Farm, dressed them and got to work. 

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Jasper's Kansas City Italian Salad Dressing.

According to the bottle, this is the original restaurant recipe. And in case you're tempted to reverse engineer it, one of the ingredients is "spices," so you'll need to do a bit more detective work to make your own at home.

This is a light Italian dressing -- not in fat (12g) or calories (120) -- but in terms of mixing with the salad. I can immediately taste the sugar and garlic, but I'm also pleased that I can still taste the greens. The oil -- soybean and extra virgin olive oil -- is more of a compliment than the star of the show.

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Cascone's Sweet Italian Dressing.

Cascone's bottle tells me this dressing is "leaning towards perfection." It's a humble dressing, I can tell.

It's sweeter than Jasper's, although I knew that going in -- the red wine vinegar and dehydrated red bell pepper combine with the sugar to give it a sweet punch. It's not cloying, but the sweetness brings out the bitterness in the greens a bit too strongly. Still, it doesn't overpower the salad, which puts it head and shoulders above a majority of bottled dressings.

The Verdict

Although Cascone's was cheaper ($3.67) than Jasper's ($4.99) and held better to the greens, Jasper's was a better fit for a mix of greens and edible flowers. On an iceberg salad with red cabbage and shredded carrots, I might not come to the same conclusion.

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