Vinaigrette dressings are really simple to put together. Just remember this: 1 part vinegar, 2 parts oil; you can’t go wrong.
Ingredient discussion: Get a good Balsamic vinegar, one that, if you taste it, tastes good just as it is. It’ll be expensive. If you get a great Balsamic vinegar, it’ll be waayyy expensive, and you won’t be using a tablespoon for your salad dressing, you’ll be breaking out the eyedropper. We happen to use Trader Joe’s Gold label Balsamic vinegar aged for 10 years. It’s under $5 for a 8.5 oz jar. It’s not the best, but it’s not too bad, either. For mustard, use a Dijon (it’s a bit sharper than most American mustards) that you like — full disclosure: we are planning to make our own mustard, so stay tuned.
Gather all your ingredients. You’d hate to have run out of Balsamic vinegar just last week. Although you really could use pretty much any good vinegar — white wine, red wine, raspberry, just not plain white vinegar. We had originally planned on Caesar salad, hence the romaine lettuce, but had to switch it at the last minute since we were out of eggs. That’s why it pays to ensure you have everything on hand before starting; we would have had a really odd Caesar salad.
Measure out all the ingredients into a bowl. Although it isn’t really critical, we try to measure out the ingredients, especially the oil and vinegar; we want to make sure there is a good balance between the tartness of the vinegar and the soothing smoothness of the oil. The mustard is nice to add a bit of flavor, and it does help the vinegar and oil to mix and form an emulsion.
Whisk everything together and drizzle over the salad. If you don’t have a whisk, consider buying one — they are fairly cheap, and work great for quick dressings, batters, mixing dry ingredients — but for now, just use a fork. If you whisk fast enough for a minute or so, the oil and vinegar should mix to form an emulsion and thicken slightly. Then just use the whisk to distribute it over the salads.
So simple to scratch up your own vinaigrette salad dressing, isn’t it? We never buy pre-made dressings; it’s just not worth it.