Walk down the condiment aisle in any grocery store and you’re met with a plethora of dressings and vinaigrettes from which to choose for your salad or marinade. But did you know that it’s easier and healthier to make your own vinaigrette at home? If you know a few basic guidelines you can make almost any kind of vinaigrette you want: savory, sweet, tangy, Asian, Indian, Mexican. The choices are limited only by your own creativity and tastes.
Why is it easier than store-bought? For starters you don’t have to drive to the store when you want a different flavor for your salad. As long as you have oil (which most people do) and vinegar (most people have this too) along with a few choice herbs or spices you can make a vinaigrette. You also don’t have to keep multiple bottles of different dressings in your fridge. Instead, you can make a small amount to be used up quickly.
It’s healthier because you control the ingredients. You can use healthy oils, limit the amount of added sodium, and avoid the all the extra additives so commonly found in store-bought dressings.
So how do you make vinaigrette? The culinary standard is a 3 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar. In other words, for every 3 parts of oil you use you would add one part vinegar. This works fine for many vinaigrettes, but I’ve found that I prefer a little less oil and more vinegar, closer to a 2 to 1 ratio or 3 to 2 ratio. This is purely a personal preference. As you make them, taste test and adjust according to your own tastes.
Always use a good oil. I prefer extra-virgin olive oil , but you can use canola oil or grapeseed oil for a milder flavor, or sesame oil for an Asian flavor.
Vinegars vary widely in their flavors and will add different depths and tastes to your vinaigrettes. I keep a variety of vinegar on hand to use for vinaigrette such as balsamic, cherry balsamic, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
After the oil and vinegar use a little sea salt, pepper, and other herbs for whatever taste you’re looking for. For sweet vinaigrettes add a little honey or smashed fresh fruit. You can also use juices like lemon or lime juice, or orange juice. Mustard is also tasty when added to vinaigrettes.
For Italian flavors try adding herbs like basil, thyme, or rosemary – even a little garlic and parmesan cheese. Mexican flavors call for cumin, oregano, pepper, cilantro, or coriander. For Asian flavors use soy sauce (lower sodium), ginger, orange zest, rice vinegar, and sometimes cilantro. For a basic vinaigrette try olive oil with balsamic or red wine vinegar and little mustard and garlic. The choices are endless and the amount of herbs and spices you use are based on your own tastes.
To get you started I have two recipes for you: Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette, and Lemon Herb Vinaigrette.
Do you make your own vinaigrette? What are your favorite ingredients? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. If you’ve enjoyed this post please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.
Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 strawberries, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. thyme
pinch of kosher salt
Put all ingredients into a small jar or bowl and mix together using a stick blender. If you don’t have a stick blender just place everything into a regular blender and pulse till combined. Enjoy on you favorite salad or refrigerate till needed!
Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/16 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Put all ingredients except pepper into a small jar. Screw the lid onto the jar and shake well till all ingredients are combined. Grind a little pepper over the dressing, mix, and taste. Add more if desired. Enjoy with your favorite salad. If using at a later time be sure to refrigerate and shake again thoroughly before serving.