I stopped buying pre-made salad dressings a long, long time ago because a) they’d get used once then end up rotting in the back of the fridge because they’re not really very good, b) it’s ridiculously easy to make your own from scratch, and c) making your own is about 1000x cheaper than buying pre-made.
I’ve established a base template for vinaigrette dressings which has held up pretty well through on-going tests. It is:
- 1/2 c oil (olive oil, generally)
- 1/3 c vinegar/sour (vinegar(s) + citrus juices, etc.)
- 1 finely minced clove of garlic (not optional, unless you really hate garlic (weirdo))
- 1 finely minced small shallot (not really optional, but you can substitute a couple of tablespoons of red onion if you must)
- 1/2 tsp sweet (sugar, honey, maple syrup, whatever)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- Pinch salt to taste
Put it all in a mason jar, make sure the lid is nice and tight, then shake like hell. A lot. Make it about an hour or so before you need it if you can, but that’s optional. Shake it again later. Don’t bother making enough for leftovers — it doesn’t store well and making it fresh is easy and awesome.
Now, I am a crazy vinegar-loving person, so you may want to ratchet the vinegar/sour back a bit. Starting with this basic template (which takes about 10 mins to make once you master the shallot/garlic mincing process) you can add whatever extras you want — fresh chopped herbs, grated cheeses, mustards, chopped capers, minced citrus zest, etc. Whatever.
The most recent was: olive oil, white wine vinegar, and lime zest (quite a lot…it was really tasty). Tonight’s is: olive oil, white wine vinegar, and about 1/3c finely grated parmasean cheese. Yum.
Update: If you’re going to use balsamic vinegar, don’t do the whole 1/3-1/2c with it. Cut that with something else. More than a few tablespoons of balsamic is a) a waste of balsamic, and b) going to be profoundly overpowering. Use the medium-good stuff, not the super-good stuff. Save the good stuff for drizzling over strawberries.