Making Vinaigrette Dressings in 3 Easy Steps!

If you are like me, you have a Good Seasons glass cruet bottle in your cupboard. You know the one. It has the V-W-O marks on it so you know how much vinegar, water and oil to mix with the seasoning packets.  Did you know you can use the same concept to make your own dressings and the seasoning possiblities are endless!

Inspired by a great article in the food section of my local paper, I will share with you the  3 basic steps to making your own dressings.  Once you get confidence you may find that you don't even need to measure! Start with basic ingredients and add interesting flavors and herbs along the way!  Even if you aren't a huge fan of Vinegar, I'll show you have to make a great dressing without it!

Don't have a fancy cruet?  Grab a canning  jar and lid, it'll work just fine!

Jan's Tip:   Did you know that the green lids from the jars of grated parmesan cheese are a perfect fit on canning jars and make a perfect lid to pour from?  
Printable Copy Click Here
Vinaigrette Dressing in 3 Steps:
Most vinaigrette's are made in a 3-1 ratio. That means you generally measure 3 parts of oil with 1 part vinegar, plus your flavor add-in's.  You don't really need an exact measure on these, but can mix it to your own taste preference. So for example: 1/4 cup vinegar or juice with 3/4 -1 cup oil is a good starting point.

Jan's tip: Taste as you go, and adjust your ingredients as you like.  

ONE: Vinegar or Other Acidity
The foundation of any vinaigrette is the Vinegar.
Grab one of the following from your pantry: (No need to get fancy here, just grab what you have or like)

rice or malt
apple cider
red /white wine vinegar

Don't have vinegar or not a huge fan of vinegar?
Substitute lemon, lime or orange juice for the vinegar (this is my favorite above any vinegar!)

Measure 1 part vinegar into a jar or cruet. (Lets just say 1/4 cup to get you started)

TWO:   Flavor  & Emulsion Add-ins:
Here's where your creativity really kicks in!  Choose any combination of herbs, seasonings, and fruits that you like.  How much to add in is up to you,but anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon for stronger flavors to several teaspoons of mild flavors is a starting point.(this goes for both the flavor and emulsifiers)  Add them to the vinegar and gently shake to blend.
Some suggestions are:

Flavor Add-ins:
Fresh or dried herbs:   basil, thyme, tarragon, rosemary
Fruits: Chopped or pureed: such as raspberry, strawberry, orange, grapefruit.
chopped garlic
poppy seeds
red pepper flakes
soy sauce

Emulsifiers :
mustard: regular, honey mustard, or dijon
sugar (when using sugar for a fruited dressing you may want to boil the vinegar and sugar for a minute to dissolve the sugar. Let cool, then proceed with dressing)

Jan's tip: ?? What is an Emulisifer and why do I need it?  Emulsifiers help thicken your dressing so it coats your salad and doesn't just sink to the bottom of your plate in a puddle.  You don't need it but a touch of it helps alot!

Three: Oils:

Once the vinegar and add-in's are mixed together add some oil. (lets start with 3/4 cup).  Many people prefer olive oil but you can also use:
 vegetable oil.

Add in your oil, close lid and shake dressing to blend.  (Yes you can make this in your blender or processor, but it's not nearly as fun and more to clean later!) Refrigerate any  leftover dressing.

Want a few recipes to get you jump started?  Here you go!
Jan's tip: All of these recipes would make a great chicken marinade also! Perfect before grilling!

Garlic & Ginger Dressing
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp. ground ginger (or 1 inch piece of ginger root grated)
2 Tablespoons lime juice (1 lime)
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil

Blend all ingredients together,  Makes approx. 1 cup dressing. Store in refrigerator.

Honey Dijon Dressing
2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
1/4 cup vinegar  (balsamic if you have it)
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 -2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1-2  Tablespoon honey
1 cup olive oil

Blend all together. Makes approx. 1 1/4 cups.  Store in refrigerator

Summertime Dressing 
(by Tony Potter)
This dressing does not follow the traditional 3-1 ratio of oil to vinegar. It's a very  light dressing!
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup finely chopped mandarin oranges
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice (the sweet kind, not sour)
2 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 small handfuls of fresh cilantro, finely chopped.
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate. Makes approx. 3 cups.
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