Everyday Vinaigrette

Of all the recipes people ask me for, the request I get most often is salad dressing.  It seems to mystify a lot of people whenever I talk about salads and how easy they are to prepare from scratch.  But, my friends, it's true!

Prepared salad dressings are often loaded with sodium, preservatives, and sugars that our salads (and our bodies) don't need.  When you get used to homemade vinaigrettes, you can really begin to taste those offenders in the bottled varieties.  And once you realize how easy and delicious it is to make your own at home, you won't go back.

After a couple of decades of making my own dressings, it's second nature to me and I no longer need recipes.  I pour a little of this and a smidge of that into a jar and shake it and without exception, it tastes great.  You will get to this place, too, after a bit of practice.

There are so many ways to change up the flavor profile of a dressing, but I thought I'd start simply, with a basic vinaigrette that tastes great in almost any combination of salad fixings.  That's why I'm calling it Everyday Vinaigrette.

If you're daunted by the raw garlic in this recipe, notice first the instruction to mash it with coarse salt.  This mellows the bite of the garlic considerably, as does the addition of vinegar.  What results is an earthy sweetness, not lingering garlic breath.

This bright, herbal dressing is just as comfortable in a big, main dish salad for company as it is poured over the simple salad you take to work everyday for lunch.  A jar of it keeps for two weeks in the fridge and will happily dress anything you like.

Everyday Vinaigrette

makes 1 cup

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 t coarse salt
  • 20 grinds black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 large lemon)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional, though you will want to increase your oil amount if you omit this)
  • 1/2 c olive oil

Finely mince garlic, then, leaving it on the cutting board, sprinkle it with coarse salt.  Use the flat side of your knife to smush the two together, mashing into a paste.  Transfer this paste to a 1/2 pint glass jar or small bowl.  Add pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs, honey, and oil and shake or stir well.  Keeps in the fridge for two weeks.  Shake vigorously before each use.