Homemade vinaigrette is one of the easiest things to make (really!), and it is so far superior to store-bought, bottled dressing that I can't imagine why you wouldn't make your own. Plus, homemade versions are much healthier with far less sugar and sodium than most bottled options. Not to mention, homemade dressing creates less packaging waste and saves you money.
The easiest way to make your own vinaigrette is the jar method. You basically throw the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and shake them until they are well-blended. Martha Stewart recommends a ration of 3 parts oil to 1 part acid (usually vinegar, I like red wine or white wine vinegar best). I personally like my dressing a little more tart and err more towards a 2:1 ratio. The beauty of a simple dressing like this is you can tinker bit by bit until you get a flavor that suits your tastes.
I almost always add a dollop of Dijon mustard to my dressing—both for the flavor and to help the oil and acid emulsify. For dressing, I prefer Maille, but I will settle for Grey Poupon (dear Costco, please start stocking Maille!). I add the vinegar and the mustard and a pinch of salt to the jar first and shake them until the mustard has incorporated itself into the vinegar, then I add the oil. If I am making a larger batch of dressing, I'll add the oil in a few stages, shaking after each addition to ease the oil into the vinegar.
- Swap lemon juice for the vinegar
- Switch in grainy mustard for the Dijon
- Add a healthy dose of freshly ground pepper
- Grate in a half a garlic clove with a microplane grater
- Mince a shallot and toss it in
- Finely dice an anchovy or two for an umami kick
- Add a bit of honey, maple syrup, or even sugar for sweetness
- Chop up some fresh herbs (chives and tarragon are nice options)
- Scoop a large pinch of dried herbs into the mix
- Grate in some fresh Parmesan cheese
Feeling fancy? Carmine's Caesar Salad Dressing is more complicated, but oh, so delicious.