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Fast, Foolproof Vinaigrettes

Learn a few simple steps so you can improvise a homemade dressing in a flash with the ingredients you already have on hand -- no measuring required.

Everyday Food, September 2012

Step One: Build Flavor

Start with finely chopped garlic, ginger, onion, shallot, herbs, or capers, and honey, soy sauce, or Dijon mustard (which will help emulsify). Season with salt and pepper.

Step Two: Add Acid

A vinaigrette gets its name from vinegar (red- or white-wine, balsamic, or cider vinegar are all good choices), but lemon or lime juice do the trick, too.

Step Three: Pour in Oil

Traditionally, vinaigrettes are 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, but we also like a light, bright 1-to-2 ratio. Use a grassy extra-virgin olive oil for big flavor, or try vegetable, safflower, or light olive oil.

Step Four: Mix It Up

Shake it in a jar, whisk it in a bowl, or whir it up in a blender for a thicker result. Most vinaigrettes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Fresh Combos to Try

  • garlic, thyme, Dijon mustard, red-wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil
  • garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, lime juice, safflower oil
  • shallot, honey, orange zest, lemon juice, light olive oil
  • chopped capers, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ginger, honey, balsamic vinegar, vegetable oil
  • shallot, cilantro, roasted jalapeno, lemon juice, light olive oil
  • mint, lemon zest and juice, peanut oil

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