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Simple Vinaigrette

May 18, 2012

Everyone assumes salad is a healthy option but oftentimes people don’t realize dressing and other additions can actually make salad rather unhealthy.  One of the ways I avoid this trap is by making my own salad dressing.  When you make your own dressing, you know exactly what goes into it and there aren’t any scary-sounding preservatives.

Once you see how easy homemade dressing is, you’ll never buy bottled salad dressing again!  I use two methods described below.  Dressing will keep for about 3-5 days in the fridge so you can make a small jar of it at the beginning of the week, or whip up small batches each night.  The dressing may separate and congeal a bit in the fridge – don’t worry – leave it on the counter for 5 or 10 minutes to warm up a bit then shake or whisk to recombine.

Another thing I like about homemade vinaigrette is you can control the thickness and acid level to your liking.  I like my dressing on the tart side so I usually use about a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil but you can adjust based on the sweetness of the vinegar and to your own taste.  To be honest, I rarely measure when I make vinaigrette, I just eyeball it and tweak after tasting.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll do the same.

You can also adjust the flavor by using different vinegars or add-ins like garlic or herbs.  I even add a splash of soy sauce sometimes…try it!  I list several vinegar and flavor booster options below the recipe.

Do you have a favorite vinaigrette recipe?  What are your go-to combinations?

Simple Vinaigrette
yields enough for a medium salad; easily doubles or triples

a dollop of dijon mustard (about 1/2 teaspoon, more or less to suit your taste)
1 tablespoon vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 or 2 pinches kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Vinegar Recommendations
balsamic vinegar – a classic that goes with anything
red wine vinegar – a tart classic
white wine or champagne vinegar – light & tangy
white balsamic – a twist on a classic, sweet & tart
blood orange vinegar – fruity, slightly sweet & very light

Flavor Boosters
1 small clove minced garlic
1-2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
fresh herbs – thyme, basil
a splash of soy sauce

METHOD ONE
Put mustard in a small bowl and add vinegar using a small whisk. Whisk in salt, pepper and any flavor boosters. Slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. If the oil isn’t fully incorporating, stop adding olive oil and whisk briskly to fully combine what’s in the bowl. Once the oil and vinegar are emulsified, you can resume adding the remaining olive oil. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning to your taste. You can adjust the quantities of anything, just make sure to whisk thoroughly to combine

METHOD TWO
Put mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and any flavor boosters into a jar. Cover and shake to combine. Add olive oil to the jar and shake vigorously to combine and emulsify. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning to your taste. You can add a little bit more of anything, covering and shaking jar to combine.

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