Vinaigrette, a simple basic version leading to many variations

When my daughter left for college last week, she requested three of my basic recipes; 1)Vinaigrette, 2) Hummus and 3) Granola.  I agree these are good foundation recipes that can be tweaked and incorporated into many dishes.  Of course, I can think of so many more, but it’s a good start!

Those close to me know that I prefer to make my own dressings, marinades, stock or whatever than to purchase pre-made.  It does take a bit more time and planning ahead, but in the end, I know exactly what is in it and it simply tastes so fresh! 

The vinaigrette evolves from my mother’s simple olive oil and red wine vinegar which she seasoned lightly with salt and pepper.  My dad would simply drizzle the oil & vinegar right on his salad; truly a freshly dressed salad!  I prefer a bit more zing, adding Dijon, dried or fresh herbs, minced garlic, balsamic vinegar for a richer flavor or lemon juice for a lighter citrus flavor.  The possibilities are endless and I change it up based on the type of salad I am dressing.

My best friend, Ayesha who share my passion for cooking and is an amazing “go to” girl for inspiration and ideas showed me her mother’s recipe adding Dijon and fork crushing garlic with kosher salt.  A tip I learned about adding soy sauce to the dressing led me to using tamari sauce which is less salty and less “soy sauce” tasting.

Basic Vinaigrette

1/3 cup vinegar
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2  tablespoon tamari sauce(optional)
1 tb. fresh or dried herbs (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Using a 3:1 ratio, 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (the “acid” part which could be lemon juice), you can adjust to your preference or quantity.

My quick method:  Combine all in a small glass jar and shake!!  Or, combine all except the oil in a bowl.  Slowly pour in the oil while whisking to incorporate the oil into the blend.  For a creamier dressing, especially when adding a marmalade or parmesan cheese, use a blender.  Use immediately or make ahead to marry the flavors. 

The variations are many.  I will change up to using a champagne vinegar, a white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar depending on the dish and the look of the dressing.  For a sweeter dressing I use orange marmalade or a touch of honey.  For an Asian spin, a rice wine vinegar with a few drops of toasted sesame oil!

I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • ChgoJohn

    I saw this post and just had to comment. Your father and mine must’ve been cut from the same cloth. Unless he made his special caesar salad, I don’t recall Dad ever using anything but olive oil and vinegar for his salad or freshly cut veggies. And as I mentioned to you once before, once I learned how to make a vinaigrette, I never bought ready-made dressing again. Your recipe here is a good base for so many great dressings. Thanks for sharing.

  • spicegirlfla

    I so agree, I never buy ready made dressing and I’ve come to find that as I got older I enjoy the foods I was raised on and my parent’s style of cooking over anything else!

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