Homemade food has the double benefit of being healthier and cheaper than prepared food. Homemade salad dressing is one of the easiest skills to add to your repertoire.
At its basic level, a salad dressing is an oil emulsified into an acid. Simply put, by mixing the oil vigorously into the acid, it is suspended into a creamy mixture. Emulsifying takes a little finesse, but is not hard to master. The video below shows you the basic skill emulsifying and then I’ll cover the basic recipe and variations we use regularly at home:
To make salad dressing you need:
- 2 tsp acid (I prefer white or red wine vinegars, balsamic on occasion, and lemon juice if it really needs a punch)
- 1 tsp mustard (optional, but will make the emulsification process easier… and the final product much tastier)
- 2-3 TB oil (organic, extra-virgin olive oil is the way to go)
Don’t get too caught up with exact amounts. The key is to start with a little acid “enhanced” with mustard and slowly add oil until it’s the consistency and flavor you like.
To make a basic salad dressing:
- Start with acid, mustard, and a little salt and pepper in a bowl (it may help to secure the bowl with a kitchen towel as shown in the video above)
- Slowly whisk in oil a few drops at a time. Once the oil is fully incorporated, continue adding a little at a time until about half is incorporated. If you add the oil to quickly, it won’t emulsify.
- Taste along the way and keep adding oil until it’s as balanced as you like it.
That’s it. A basic vinaigrette.
If you want to spice things up a bit, here are some things we like to add to ours:
- Dry or fresh herbs
- Crushed garlic (mix with step one and let it sit if you have time to wait so more flavor is extracted)
- Good quality, raw egg yolk (see my post on choosing eggs)
- Honey (takes some of the “bite” off if the acid is too bitter)
- Mayonnaise or sour cream (add a dash with an egg yolk for a delicious creamy dressing)
- Anchovies (high in vitamin D and substitutes for salt)
What’s your favorite salad dressing?