Vinaigrette Vignette

Let me tell you a story about salad dressing. The kind that makes your mouth water and complements a freshly tossed salad perfectly. Here it is: Once upon a time, I mixed a few things together in a jar and never bought a vinaigrette dressing from the store again. The end.

It sounds too good to be true; in less than five minutes, you can make a delicious vinaigrette dressing using only a handful of ingredients. You can tweak the flavors for any type of cuisine or any kind of salad, whether it’s used on greens or grains. You can even use a vinaigrette as a marinade.

When making an oil- and vinegar-based dressing, the rule is simple: aim for a ratio of three, two, one. For three parts oil, add two parts vinegar and one part emulsifier. Mix these with aromatics or seasonings as you please, and wow everyone with your perfectly-paired dressing.


Oil and vinegar don’t naturally love one another. That’s why the emulsifier is key. The most common emulsifier for vinaigrettes is mustard, but you’re not relegated to the yellow stuff. Spicy mustard, dijon mustard, whole-grain or horseradish mustard are also fine options.

For about 1/3 cup of the most classic, go-with-everything vinaigrette, mix and shake thoroughly:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil,
  • 2 tablespoons of champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic clove or shallot
  • salt, pepper, and a pinch of fresh herbs (such as thyme)


The combinations are endless. Try grapeseed oil, red wine vinegar, and whole grain mustard. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try a combination of grated ginger with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and wasabi.

Mason jars or small tupperware containers are ideal for storing the dressing. When preparing a vinaigrette for a green salad, store the dressing and greens separately until you’re ready to serve, and give the container a shake before pouring it over the ingredients. Congratulations! You’re putting Big Dressing out of business one meal at a time.


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