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Here’s the Easiest Vinaigrette Recipe—and 6 Flavorful Variations to Try

Master this everyday essential.

<p>Vicuschka/Getty Images</p>

Vicuschka/Getty Images

Let’s go back to basics today with vinaigrette, a combination of oil, vinegar, and seasoning that’s commonly used to dress salads. As the name suggests, the French coined the term vinaigrette, which is now a concept known throughout the world. 

Although vinaigrettes are often used in salads, they can flavor all types of dishes, including grains, vegetables, tofu, meat, and fish. Try spooning a zingy lemon vinaigrette over flaky cod, for example, or drizzling some chipotle vinaigrette on top of a grain bowl for a smoky, spicy kick. 

Once you know the basic vinaigrette formula, you can make countless variations by experimenting with different oils and vinegars, and adding other flavorful ingredients to the mix. This is your sign to stop buying overpriced vinaigrettes at the grocery store, and to start making your own. 

Related: 25 Healthy Salad Recipes That Will Revolutionize Your Lunch Game

Basic Vinaigrette Recipe

Here, we’re sharing a recipe with the traditional 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, but feel free to experiment with the ratio in your kitchen to make your perfect vinaigrette. Dijon might not be traditional in all vinaigrettes, but we like including it to help bind the oil and vinegar for a creamy, emulsified texture.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (such as red wine, white wine, or apple cider vinegar)

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add the vinegar and mustard to a bowl, and whisk to combine.

  2. While whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil until it’s well combined.

  3. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.

Related: 14 Salad Dressing Recipes to Amp Up Your Greens

Vinaigrette Variations

Now that you know how to make a basic vinaigrette, you’re ready to use that knowledge to whip up endless vinaigrette variations depending on what you’re eating and what flavors you’re in the mood for.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Use balsamic vinegar here, and add a small clove of grated garlic to the vinegar-mustard mixture before adding the olive oil. Drizzle it over Caprese salad or skewers, or spoon it over grilled or roasted vegetables.

Lemon Vinaigrette

Swap vinegar with lemon juice for this tangy recipe. Taste, and add a drizzle of honey to mellow it if the acidity is too sharp. This vinaigrette brightens up anything, from white beans to farro and cod.

Shallot Vinaigrette

Champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar both suit this recipe well. Just add a tablespoon of minced shallot and a drizzle of honey to the vinegar-mustard mixture, and let it sit for a few minutes before proceeding with the olive oil. Toss with mixed greens for a simple salad, or use this as a finishing sauce for shrimp, asparagus, green beans, scallops, and beyond.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Opt for red wine vinegar here, and add a small clove of grated garlic and a pinch of dried oregano to the vinegar-mustard mixture. This dressing has a Greek flavor profile, and works well with chopped salads like our Smashed Cucumber Salad with Spicy Feta and Olives or our Lemony Chopped Salad with Pita

Related: 21 Simple Summer Salad Recipes With the Season's Best Ingredients

Chipotle Vinaigrette

For this vinaigrette, use lime juice instead of vinegar, and a neutral oil like avocado oil instead of olive oil. Instead of whisking the ingredients in a bowl, blitz them in a small food processor, adding one chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo. You’ll also add a drizzle of honey, a small grated garlic clove, and ½ teaspoon of ground cumin. Serve with tacos or Mexican Beef Sliders, or toss with sautéed corn or peppers and onions.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Bump up the Dijon to one tablespoon for this recipe — you really want the mustard to sing. Balance out the mustard’s intensity with honey, tasting as you go until you reach the flavor you want. Try this vinaigrette as a dipping sauce for fries or pretzels, or toss it with greens to make a salad.

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