After a conversation with friends, the other day, about homemade salad dressing and the goodness of it, it made me realize that most people do not realize how easy it is to make your salad dressing at home and how much better it is than the store-bought ones. I don’t know about you but I have read the label on the store-bought ones and it astounds me to no end the amount of extra ingredients included in them, many of them preservatives and chemicals. One of the reasons I cook most of my family’s food at home is to get away from those things. Yes, they might make the food sit on the shelf for a few years but what is that doing to our bodies?
Basic Vinaigrette Ingredients
A basic vinaigrette should only contain four to five ingredients depending on who you talk to. Your choice of vinegar ( I use red wine or rice wine vinegar), olive oil (some use veggie oils but olive oil is heart healthy and so much tastier), a little sugar or honey, fresh ground black pepper, and sea salt (I, personally, leave out the salt, the flavors from herbs and garlic take away the need to add salt). These components are the basics to a good vinaigrette, put them in a jar with a lid and shake them up. I’ve included my go to vinaigrette recipe at the bottom.
Flavoring the Basic Vinaigrette
Now to flavor that basic vinaigrette, I always add at least 2 minced cloves of garlic and the lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon. This creates a wonderful vinaigrette that is good on any salad and can make a great marinade as well. To spice it up even more, I add whatever fresh herbs I have at the moment or for a theme, I buy the right ones. I prefer to use fresh herbs but for those winter months when they are more expensive in the store and mine are not producing enough in the window sill, using dry herbs will give you awesome flavor. For even more flavor, use roasted garlic and onions or raw shallots, onions, or whatever your heart desires to create the flavor combination your taste buds will love.
Vinaigrette Restaurant and Budget Tips
Here is a restaurant tip for helping to prevent your vinaigrette from separating. Toss all your ingredients into a blender and blend for about 30 seconds. The emulsifying in the blender works to help stop the oil and vinegar parts from separating for a few days. I still tend to shake it up before serving just to make sure but this trick works well for a dinner party or event when the dressing is sitting out on the table in serving containers for people to use.
For those of you on a budget and looking to stretch your dollars, add about a 1/4 cup of water to the mix to make the dressing go further. The water does not change the flavor unless you add excessive amounts and will stretch out the amount for a couple of more uses.
Once you have tried this vinaigrette recipe and realize how easy it is, you’ll realize not only is this easy and yummy but it’s also very cost affordable and you are not eating all those extra additives. Get back to the basics of food and enjoy the simple pleasures of flavors without the extras.
Basic Vinaigrette Recipe
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup rice wine or red wine vinegar
2 tsp. white sugar
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs
Combine in a jar and shake to mix thoroughly. This will store in the fridge for one to two weeks depending on additives; with fresh herbs only one week, without for two. To extend the life of the dressing, I will sometimes add the fresh herbs into the salad instead of the dressing where you still get all the awesome flavors but can keep the dressing for the two full weeks.