The best way to convince your friends and family that you’re a strong home cook – even if you’re just a novice – is to take an ordinary salad and turn it into masterpiece with a tasty homemade salad dressing.
In its simplest form, a homemade vinaigrette is made with oil and vinegar.
Beyond these basics, most vinaigrette today are flavored with citrus, herbs or spices.
When you make your own salad dressing, you’re the one calling the shots and you can use whatever you like to create a tasty dressing that won’t be too heavy on any one particular flavor – unless of course, you like it that way.
When you’re making your own vinaigrette, whether it’ for an instant salad dressing or a keep a few simple tips in mind.
Use a mild oil
When you’re making vinaigrette, try not to pick an oil that will overpower your dressing. Start with an oil that has little flavor, like olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil or vegetable oil. The majority of the flavor will come from your vinegar. Which brings me to my next point…
Choose a flavorful vinegar
Opt for the best quality that you can afford. The higher the quality, the less you’ll need to flavor your dressing. Red wine, white wine, apple cider and balsamic vinegar are all great options and you can mix and match them to create different flavors.
I know this sounds like a platitude in cooking, but you really can take creative liberties when it comes to vinaigrette. For example: if you’re making an Italian meal, select some fresh garlic, along with oregano and basil for an delicious dressing.
Add fresh herbs — thyme, chives, basil and parsley are all good additions to salad dressing. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some roughly chopped basil goes a long way to brighten up a salad.
If that word sounds like something you learned in tenth grade chemistry, you’re not completely wrong. When you’re ready to create your vinaigrette, mix the vinegar and any liquids except the oil, with your herbs. Do this by hand or with a food processor.
Once this step is complete, add the oil to emulsify. One way to do this is to whisk your vinegar + herb mixture while slowly drizzling the oil into your mixture. You can also process in a food processor or blender, drizzling the oil in slowly as you pulse or process.
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 heaping teaspoon honey
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds or until a creamy emulsion begins to form. You can also do this step by hand using a whisk or hand mixer.
- Taste and if the dressing feels too heavy on your tongue, add more vinegar, a teaspoon at a time, until the balance tastes right to you. If you have leftover dressing keep it in the fridge for up to three days, shaking well before each re-use.