Making an Herb Vinaigrette is easier than you think. All you need is an acidic base & a flavorful oil. Up your Oil and Vinegar Dressing game!
I'm forever trying to reduce the amount of processed foods in my family's diet, and salad dressing is a great place to start.
Who needs all those preservatives and stabilizers when I can make a delicious oil and vinegar dressing in just a few minutes?
And since herb vinaigrettes are eminently customizable, I can match the flavors to whatever I'm serving the dressing with.
Emulsions cast a wide net
Did you know that the lowly vinaigrette dressing belongs to a family of sauces bigger than just salad dressings?
The mixing of oil and water is called an emulsion. Vinaigrettes are a temporary emulsion sauce, meaning the oil and 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.
Just a few ingredients needed
An herb vinaigrette is really just oil and vinegar dressing (or another acid like lemon juice) mixed together with a few seasonings for flavor.
You can mix and match the type of vinegars and oils you like based on the flavor profile you want.
The amounts of everything else you add (like salt, pepper, sugar, and flavorings like herbs and garlic or shallots) depends on your own taste.
No real recipe is needed
How much oil and vinegar is needed for a vinaigrette? That depends on your tastes, really.
Here I'm making a White Wine Herb Vinaigrette. I start by mixing my seasonings together, in this case dried herbs, sugar, salt and pepper, and some finely minced garlic (I use a garlic press).
My family likes the combination of white wine vinegar with a bit of red wine vinegar added for extra depth.
Also, I like to cut the extra virgin olive oil with some canola oil so the dressing isn't so heavy.
The instructions? Just whisk everything together.
Simple to make, it comes together in a snap.
What kind of oil and vinegar can be used?
Again, that's up to you. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but herb vinaigrettes are very forgiving.
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.
All the rest is based on what you have in the pantry.
As you can see, it's just keeping that 3-1 oil and vinegar dressing ratio that's important, and even that isn't set in stone. It's completely up to your taste.
What about the seasonings?
The herbs and seasonings are up to you as well. (Sheesh!)
You can use dried or fresh herbs, but keep in mind that dried herbs are about 3 times more potent than fresh herbs.
Use garlic, shallots, or replace either with garlic powder or onion powder. Sugar cuts the acidity a bit and adds a nice counterbalance, but it's optional.
And if you want your emulsion to be a bit more stable, adding in a teaspoon of mustard or mayonnaise can help.
You can even use an egg yolk to stabilize the emulsion if you feel comfortable. That's how Caesar salad dressing was made traditionally. Just don't feed it to pregnant women in case of salmonella concerns.
What can I store my salad dressing in?
A salad dressing mixer is a convenient way to store your homemade herb vinaigrette. I like the built-in blade that lets me mix the dressing in the jar without making a mess.
There are of course many other containers, ranging from a simple mason jar to a fancy crystal bottle. I have even used this salad dressing cruet from Good Seasons powdered mix.
Yes, from when I still used a dressing base from an envelope. I shudder to think about it.
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!
Ditch the bottled dressings forever and get creative with your oil and vinegar salad dressings to really brighten up your meals.
It's as easy as 3 to 1!
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!
Herb Vinaigrette (Oil and Vinegar Dressing)
- 1 Tbsp fresh herbs, minced, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tsp dried herbs, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic or small shallot, pressed or minced, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar, or your preferred vinegar, see Recipe Notes
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, for a tangier flavor
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or another flavored oil, see Recipe Notes
- ¼ cup canola oil, if desired, or more of the oil used above
- 1 tsp prepared mustard, optional, see Recipe Notes
- Add all ingredients in the order listed into a small bowl or directly into a salad dressing mixer. Whisk or shake to mix.
- Let the mixture sit 20 minutes or so to let the flavors meld.
- Mix again before serving.