I love simple homemade salad dressing or basic vinaigrette as it’s called. I can make enough for two or a whole jar and never read a label.
Homemade salad dressings are easy to make and keeps forever if they get pushed to the back of the fridge. (I try not to do that but it happens.) Best of all, it that they never contains high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours or other additives and preservatives that may include wheat and there’s no label to read. Next best thing, there are endless ways to vary them and they turn out every time.
I just might be a salad dressing snob but I won’t apologize for that.
Basic Salad Dressing Components
A basic salad dressing, known as vinaigrette in French, is a combination of 1 part acid to 3 parts oil. Salt and pepper and that’s it. That means 1 tablespoon of any vinegar or citrus juice mixed with 3 tablespoons of any neutral tasting oil. This is where you would use your extra virgin olive oil, keep the regular olive oil for cooking.
From this very basic recipe the additions are endless. A dab of Dijon mustard, or sometimes an egg yolk helps with the emulsification process and makes a more creamy dressing. Shallots (not onions) add a special, subtle flavour. But now we are getting fancy.
For a lower fat version you can decrease the vinegar:oil ratio from the 1:3 down to 1:2. Your personal taste and experience will guide you to your favourite combinations.
Understanding the basic vinaigrette recipe is the only tool you need to make wonderful, delicious salads for the rest of your life. It is worth teaching your teenagers or young adult children to do.
Shake or Whisk Your Homemade Salad Dressing
The easiest way to make a homemade salad dressing is to measure the ingredients directly into a jar, shake it up then use it. For me this is the simple everyday method. No dishes to clean up, slap a label on it (or not) and you’re done. I love Mason jars and have a variety of sizes on hand all the time. Sometimes I use a small whisk and make my dressing in a little bowl with no leftovers…it just depends.
To emulsify the oil and vinegar you need technique. Emulsifying the ingredients allows you to let your salad dressing sit for a longer period of time and also improves the way the dressing coats the salad greens. This is only important if you care about that. Most often I don’t.
You can whisk your dressing right in your salad bowl if you like. With this method you can use a large whisk, slowly drizzle in the oil as you whisk away and create an emulsified salad dressing. Add the greens right on top of the dressing, toss and serve.
The Basic Rules for Dressing a Salad
- Use dry lettuce, a salad spinner or tea towel works well.
- Toss the greens with only enough to coat them, start with less than you think you need.
- Serve immediately.
The Ultimate Garden Salad with Homemade Salad Dressing
If you can make your salad with greens, herbs, vegetables and flowers from a garden fantastic! If not no need to feel your salad is inferior. Whether your lettuce is from a garden, the market or the grocery store enjoy a variety of salads with homemade salad dressing year round knowing it’s a healthy choice. In the summer I can’t resist adding a few flower petals.
To learn more about edible flowers check out my post, How To Use Edible Flowers in the Kitchen.
More Recipes – Salad
|1 Tbsp wine vinegar (red or white)|
|3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil|
|1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)|
|salt & freshly ground pepper to taste|
- Measure all ingredients into a jar and shake.
- Alternately, put vinegar (and mustard if using) in a large bowl and drizzle in the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.