1 Vinaigrette, 8 Ways

Is there a better way to welcome spring than with a delicious salad chock full of the freshest spring produce that we’ve pined for all winter? We think not. But having the right salad dressing can make or break your spring salad euphoria, and rumor has it that some of us still buy our dressings from the supermarket–gasp! Whether you’re a supermarket-salad-dressing-person or not, get ready for a quick vinaigrette lesson that’s not only easy to follow, but endlessly variable with results that are just as tempting as the crisp, tender, and vibrant produce in your long-awaited spring salad.

Making a vinaigrette is incredibly easy and once you know the basic ratio, you'll never need to look up a proper recipe for it again. There‘s just one rule to keep in mind: Follow a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. Of course you may find recipes with different ratios that are just as tasty, but with the 3:1 rule you can never go wrong when experimenting on your own.

In addition to the oil and acid, you can add lots of other ingredients to modify your vinaigrette and suit nearly any type of salad you can think of. Today we’re going to show you 8 different vinaigrettes, but trust us, this is only the beginning!

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Which oils should you use?
When choosing an oil, feel free to go wild and try out any type you might have in your kitchen. A classic vinaigrette relies on an olive oil base, but why not test out walnut, linseed, avocado, or grapeseed oils? You can also try toasted sesame oil as a base for an Asian vinaigrette. Learn more about the different types of oils with our handy oil guide.

Which acids should you use?
There are a lot of options to add the necessary acid to your vinaigrette. Traditionally, you can use any kind of vinegar–our only advice would be to avoid using distilled white vinegar as it‘s very strong and usually much too intense for a vinaigrette. You can also go for citrus fruit juices from lemons, limes, or grapefruits to add a bright, tart flavor that compliments tender lettuces and herbs.

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The power of emulsion
„Emulsifying“ might sound like we’re in our high school chemistry class, but don’t worry, it’s a very simple process that is especially important when it comes mastering a vinaigrette. The end goal when emulsifying is to get two ingredients that don’t normally combine to come together. Oil and vinegar are the perfect example as you can physically see that they do not combine naturally–the oil will float while the vinegar will sink. So, how do we mix them? The trick is to combine them vigorously using a whisk, fork, an immersion blender, or even just a jar that you can seal and shake heartily.

On top of vigorously mixing the oil and acid, you can use adiitional emulsifiers that act as a sort of glue and help keep them from separating for a period of time. Mustard, tahini, miso paste, and honey are tasty vinaigrette emulsifiers that do the trick, but it’s important to remember that this is only temporary–sooner or later the oil and vinegar will separate again, so remember to make your vinaigrette only right before you dress your salad, or you will have re-emulsify it.

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What’s your favorite vinaigrette for your salads? Do you have another great combination of ingredients? Share them in the comments for the community to enjoy!