Making an Herb Vinaigrette is easier than you think. All you need is an acidic base, a flavorful oil, and some creativity!
An example of an emulsion
Did you know that the lowly vinaigrette belongs to a family of sauces bigger than salad dressings? The mixing of oil and water is called an emulsion.
Vinaigrettes are a temporary emulsion sauce, meaning the oil & vinegar separates. Examples for more stable emulsions are mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauce.
Caesar salad dressing is a semi-stable sauce because even though it'll stay mixed for a long time, it will eventually separate (or break).
Now you know.
What is the ratio of acid to oil for an herb vinaigrette?
I’ve discussed the ingredient ratios for scones, pound cakes, and pie crusts, so you won’t be surprised that there’s an easy ratio for herb vinaigrette dressings …1-3 (1-part acid to 3-parts oil). The rest is just seasonings. Simple to make, it comes together in a snap.
What kind of vinegar and oil can be used?
Herb vinaigrettes are very forgiving. You can mix and match the type of vinegars and oils you use based on the flavor profile you want, and the amounts of everything else you add (like salt, pepper, sugar, and flavorings like herbs and garlic or shallots) depends on your own taste.
For example, I like a Lime Shallot dressing. For that you substitute lime juice for the white wine vinegar and 1 small shallot for the garlic.
Play with different flavors of vinegar or other acids...red wine, apple cider, balsamic, fruit or citrus juices. Choose a flavorful oil...olive oil is nice, but there's also walnut, avocado, sesame oils, just to name a few. The herbs and seasonings are up to you as well.
As you can see, it's just keeping that 1-3 ratio of acid to oil that's important (and even that isn't set in stone...it's to your taste). All the rest is based on what you hand in the pantry.
What can I store my salad dressing in?
A salad dressing shaker is a convenient way to store your homemade herb vinaigrette.
There are of course many examples, ranging from a simple mason jar to a fancy crystal bottle. I just use a simple cruet from Good Seasons (yes, from when I still used dressing base from envelope. I shudder to think about it!).
This OXO Salad Dressing Shaker is easy to use and gets the job done. 'Nuff said.
Oh, I almost forgot...these dressings make a great marinade for chicken, fish, or cooked vegetables, either to soak the item in or drizzle after being cooked. The possibilities are endless!
I hope you get creative with your salad dressings and really brighten up your meals. It's as easy as 1 to 3!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes for salad dressing and other emulsion sauces
Did you know that salad dressing is a form of an emulsion sauce? There are temporary and stable emulsions, and they can add a layer of flavor to your dishes. Give these a try!
White Wine Herb Vinaigrette
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1-2 cloves garlic or small shallot, pressed or minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh herbs, minced (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tsp dried herbs, (see Recipe Notes)
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar , for a tangier flavor
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or another flavored oil
- ¼ cup canola oil, if desired, or more of the oil used above
- 1 tsp prepared mustard, optional (see Recipe Notes)
- Combine all ingredients in a salad dressing shaker, shake to mix.
- Let the mixture sit 20 minutes or so to let the flavors meld.