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Homemade Salad Dressing or Basic Vinaigrette

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Do you make your own salad dressing? If not you should try it.

I love homemade salad dressing. It is easy to make, I can make just enough for a salad for two or I can make a jar that will last a month. It keeps forever if it gets pushed to the back of the fridge. I can vary it to suit the occasion but best of all, it never contains high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours or other additives and preservatives that may include wheat…and it is delicious every time.

Perhaps I am a salad dressing snob but I will not 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 in inferior. Whether your lettuce is from a garden, the market or the grocery store enjoy the bounty of the season and your homemade salad dressing. A sprinkling of the petals from a few edible flowers wouldn’t hurt either.

Ingredients

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

Directions

1
Measure all ingredients into a jar and shake.
2
Alternately, put vinegar (and mustard if using) in a large bowl and drizzle in the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking.
3
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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