Liberate yourself from a fridge full of salad dressing bottles! Vinaigrette is a simple salad dressing that is beyond easy to make at home. The basic method is easy to master, and can be used to create an endless array of delicious homemade salad dressings. Classic proportions and some initial options to start playing with flavors within the basic dressing are listed below. Once you get the hang of it, you can start experimenting from here to the moon with flavors that intrigue you.
Tip: Make your dressing as you need it in the bottom of the salad bowl (as pictured here and as is common in France) or make a large batch in a jar to last the week.
1. Start With Vinegar (and Aromatics and/or Mustard)
In a large bowl in which you will toss the salad or a small jar for easy mixing, put 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. (Note: Good quality vinegar or fresh lemon juice will yield the most delicious vinaigrettes.)
You can also add a minced shallot (as pictured here), minced garlic, or other aromatics such as red onion, green garlic, or chives. Letting these things sit for a few minutes in the vinegar will intensify their flavor.
Additionally, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or 1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard will add a nice bite to the final dressing and help the mixture emulsify (which is fancy culinary talk for "get creamy looking and hold together").
For a less sharp, sweeter dressing, you can stir in 1 teaspoon honey or sugar.
2. Whisk In Oil
Pour 3 tablespoons of oil* into the bowl while whisking until the oil is combined into the other ingredients. Or, add the oil to the jar, cover, and shake to combine the vinaigrette.
* Extra virgin olive oil is a classic choice, but grapeseed oil is a great option, too. For another flavor profile, try walnut oil or other nut oils for a boost of flavor.
3. Season to Taste
Add salt to taste. About 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt is a common amount for the proportions listed above.
You can also add freshly ground black pepper and/or minced herbs to taste.
You're now ready to use the dressing to flavor 4 to 6 cups of lettuce or other greens in a Tossed Green Salad. Vinaigrettes can also be used to marinate composed salads such as Marinated Green Bean Salad.