Simple Salad Dressings & Vinaigrettes

I can't remember the last time I actually bought a bottle of salad dressing.

More often than not, when I want to perk up a vegetable, grain, or pasta salad, I make it simple by merely drizzling on some oil — typically extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, or toasted sesame oil — along with a splash of vinegar (umeboshi vinegar is my favorite) or lemon juice for extra zip.

However, there are times when it helps to be a bit more precise, especially when making salads for more than two. And, once you discover the recipe for a particularly good vinaigrette, it's nice to have at the ready.

Primary Proportions: 1 part vinegar to 4 parts oil

How much vinegar or lemon juice to oil is largely a matter of personal preference but a good place to start is 1 part vinegar to 4 parts oil.

If you want more tang, then add more vinegar or lemon juice. Or if it seems too tangy from the get-go, then add more oil.

If you want less oil to reduce calories, you can skip the oil entirely and simply drizzle on a flavorful vinegar and add a tablespoon or so of roasted nuts per serving for the taste and richness that oil would otherwise provide. When it comes to flavor, using really good quality unrefined oils go a long way, making it easier to do with less. Some cooks suggest substituting some vegetable or chicken broth or orange juice for some of the oil... it's all up to you.

Basic Vinaigrette

Makes 2/3 cup


Putting it All Together

Suggested Oils
Extra virgin olive oil or any of the "no heat" oils listed in my "Culinary Oil Selection Guide", including unrefined versions of argan, almond, avocado, flaxseed, hazelnut, pumpkin, safflower, sunflower, or walnut oil.
(For more information, see page 170 in New Good Food or page 110 in New Good Food Shopper's Pocket Guide)

Suggested Vinegars
Any of the vinegars listed in my "Vinegar Selection Guide", including apple cider vinegar, balsalmic vinegar, fruit or herb infused vinegar, brown rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, umeboshi vinegar, or wine vinegar.
(For more information, see page 151 in New Good Food Shopper's Pocket Guide.)

Suggested Herbs

Parsley, chives, any variety of basil, thyme, tarragon, etc.

How much vinaigrette to use on specific types of salads.
Tossed salad greens: 2/3 cups per 1 pound salad greens
Pasta salad: 1/4 cup per 8 cups cooked pasta (about 1 pound dry) plus veggies
Rice salad (or any other cooked grain): 2 tablespoons per 3–4 cups cooked rice plus veggies
Bean salad: 2 tablespoons per 3 cups cooked beans

Print Recipe | Back to List