While it’s easy to have your favorite bottled salad dressing on hand, it’s also really easy — easier than most people think — to simply make your dressing each time you need it. By knowing how to make a basic vinaigrette, you can then easily alter it to make more dressings. Think of this as your building block recipe. Best of all, it uses ingredients you will always have on hand: olive oil, vinegar (or acidic fruit like lemons, oranges, limes), salt and pepper. The variations discussed today also use common kitchen staples: dijon mustard, maple syrup, Italian seasoning, garlic and mayonnaise. And, I almost always add shallots, but I always have shallots on hand. If you prefer to use another onion, that’s fine. But, I will say that I think the mild taste of shallots is ideal. Besides that, you really only need a bowl and a whisk.
The backstory about this recipe being published today: Earlier this summer, we featured a beautiful, easy summer outdoor gathering featuring lots of goodies from Billie’s Pecans styled by the amazing Amos Gott. For the featured recipes in this article (strawberry salad, the asparagus-potato side and the chicken breasts) using a simple vinaigrette dressing, like this one, is super tasty. Knowing this, we started talking around our office about how everyone needs to be able to create a vinaigrette on the fly, and we realized quickly that most people in our own office didn’t even know a basic vinaigrette recipe off the top of their head. If this describes you, your life is about to get easier just by reading today’s recipe!
Make as little or as much as you need. This recipe is easy. Ready?
Basically, you want three parts olive oil to two parts vinegar. You can use any vinegar except for balsamic or white distilled for this recipe. Experiment! It’s easy and almost impossible to mess up. And, you can substitute lemon juice, lime juice or orange juice for the vinegar.
From here, you add salt and pepper. Taste it. Do you need a little more salt and pepper? Do you prefer a little more vinegar? While this recipe calls for a 3:2 portion of oil to lemon juice/vinegar, some people prefer quite a bit more vinegar and others less. 3:2 is a great place to start. Then, ask yourself if you prefer it sweeter. I do not, but you may want to add a little maple syrup if you do. If you like some heat, add a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes. For more dimension, chop up some shallots and add with some Italian seasoning. For a mustard vinaigrette (perfect over warm asparagus or to make a mustard potato salad), add some dijon mustard (and if you didn’t add maple syrup before, you’ll want to now — honey works as well). Want to add bacon? Okay, do it. If you like it creamy, add some mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt or sour cream).
How easy does that sound? Yep, you can do this. Here are my proportions and remember to adjust for your liking and then start making this regularly.
- 2/3 cup (I like California olive oil, but choose your favorite. Some people like an oil with a very light flavor, like canola oil)
- 1/3 cup vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons diced shallots
- 1 -2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or yogurt or sour cream)
- This is a whole lot of dressing! Make this on a Sunday and use it, add to it, change it all week long.
- Whisk the first four ingredients and then build your vinaigrette from there. Consider getting more creative as you go. Further options include adding: blue cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs ... or putting the vinaigrette with added ingredients into a blender to make it extra smooth.