Homemade Salad Dressing
I started the journey of making all things homemade a couple of years ago. I always used to get asked the question, “How can you eat healthier?” I think it’s always implied that as a dietitian I just eat healthy, so people are always wondering where can I improve in my game. And that’s how the “make everything homemade” started. This is my journey and it’s not that I think everyone should make everything homemade, but salad dressing, too easy not to make homemade.
Yesterday I made Kouign Amann, homemade. Think part sticky bun part sugared croissant, 100% deliciousness. Seriously that good. Here in Miami any time it comes to dough I have a problem with the stickiness factor. I blame it on the humidity and heat, but I do think there is some truth to that. Good thing I tried this recipe out in winter/almost spring. I can’t imagine it in the summer here. It’s been a baked good that I’ve wanted to make for awhile now - where you fold the butter into the dough and create what’s called a laminated dough - multiple folds - to make a light and crispy airy dough. They weren’t all pretty, but they sure were tasty.
But back to homemade salad dressing. The American Heart Association has a graphic they use to show “The Salty Six”. You can take a look at it here. And while salad dressing didn’t make the cut, it does tend to be an area of added sugar and salt that can take a salad from healthy to unhealthy. What better way to take control of what you put into your dressings but then to make your own? I always tell people to start with the simple. Switching out a store bought dressing for a homemade dressing is a simple change most people can do. This is so quick & simple even your kids can make it. And you’ll be glad you did. The taste is out of this world better!
The key to any oil-based dressing is to make an emulsion. An emulsion is simply making sure that the oil and vinegar are mixed well together. To do this, all you need to do is to have all the ingredients except the oil mixed together and then stream in the oil in just a little at at time. This is the key. If you try to add all of the olive oil at once it just doesn’t mix well and does tend to separate. Add in a tablespoon at a time and now you’re talking, emulsion perfection.
This is my favorite go-to balsamic vinaigrette. I add a little Dijon mustard as I like to think of it as a secret ingredient. The Dijon mustard helps with the emulsion as well. Once you get the basics down, the fun part about making homemade dressings is that the sky is the limit.. Here I used balsamic vinegar, but you can easily switch out the vinegar, add a splash of citrus, and now you have a whole new dressing. The flavor combinations really are endless!
Here’s how to customize your dressing (a simple guide):
Use a 3 to 1 ratio of oil versus vinegar (you’ll see in my directions below)
For the acid, you can substitute balsamic, red wine, apple cider, or sherry vinegar, OR lemon or orange juice (play with quantities to taste on this!)
Add in chopped herbs, minced garlic or shallots - I always add in whatever herb I’ve bought for the week to use up what I have. Basil was today’s!
Store in a glass jar with a tight lid in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature and give it a shake before serving.
So without further ado, I give you my homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe. I hope you like it as much as I do.
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Black Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (or whatever herb you have on hand)
In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, mustard and garlic and whisk to blend. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth and blended. Season with pepper and stir in the basil.