Historically speaking vinaigrette is simply a blend of oil and vinegar usually 3 parts oil to one part vinegar, salt and pepper.
In the first century folks in countries like Rome and Greece, salted vegetables and herbs and dressed them with oil and or vinegar,both that were common then.
It is the basis for so many salad dressings that you can think of.
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Some quick notes:
1. Basic Vinaigrette is what is called a temporary emulsion. So the oil and vinegar will only hold together for a little while before it separates. Mayonnaise type dressings are permanent emulsion.
2. The oil and vinegar should be at room temperature when you mix them.
3. The best way is to combine the vinegar in a stainless or glass bowl, and any seasonings you use and then whisk the oil in a stream. You can also use a hand held immersion blender or a regular blender.
4. Vinegars have different strengths so take a piece of lettuce and dip it in the dressing to taste it for strength.
5. Mustard is a natural emulsifier. I only recommend a dijon style mustard though as it's flavor doesn't overwhelm the salad.
6. Generally you don't sweeten a vinaigrette. If you want to you can add a touch of sugar or honey. Honey helps with the emulsion.
Makes 1 cup, about 6- 8 servings.
1 / 2 cup olive oil
3 - 4 tablespoons vinegar*( the more you use the more tart the dressing will be)
2 tablespoons water
teaspoon mustard, such as Dijon or a honey Mustard. (not yellow hot dog mustard)
1 / 2 teaspoon salt
1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper
optional ( chopped onion or garlic)
* Any vinegar is fine, like apple cider, or wine vinegar, or even distilled. Dark balsamic vinegar will add a dark color to your dressing.
To hand mix:
Put all the ingredients in a stainless bowl and stir with a whire whip add the oil in a steady stream till well mixed.
To make a creamier dressing place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for a minute on high.
You can also use a hand held Immersion Blender.
This whips a bit of air into the dressing giving it a creamier texture.