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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Basics of a Vinaigrette and an OXO Salad Dressing Shaker Giveaway!

When I first moved to France, I realized that I was in trouble when it came to salads.  Yes, the grocery stores and markets had great salad ingredients.  Yes, salads were everywhere.  But at the same time, bottled salad dressings in France were terrible.  I had grown up with the bottle and couldn't figure out what to do...until I realized that I could actually make my own!  And it would be a thousand times better than the bottle!  Ever since that realization, I have (mostly) made my own salad dressings.  The great thing about the homemade version is that it has endless possibilities: herbs or none, mustard or no, tangier with more vinegar or smoother with more oil--you get to decide. 

Take the vinaigrette I made for my poached egg salad I posted about last week.  The egg yolk added a delectable creaminess to the salad, so I decided to go with a more tart version of a basic vinaigrette by adding a little more acid.  And that's something you can't do with the bottle in your fridge.

So how do you make a vinaigrette?  It's easy!  It really comes down to the ratio of oil to acid (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) and personal flavor preferences.  The common ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid.  When you're first starting out on the path to homemade vinaigrettes, I would stick to a good extra virgin olive oil and basic vinegars.  My favorite vinegars are balsamic and red wine because they're milder, but once you get going, start playing with your acids and oils to create different flavors.

If you want your vinaigrette to remain emulsified (or all mixed up), then you'll want to add an emulsifier.  (There's a chemical explanation about how this happens, but we won't go into the details right now.)  The most common for vinaigrettes is mustard (dijon or whole-grain works great) or honey.  Salt and pepper are essential, and then the rest is up to you.  So let's get started!
  1. For a regular, family-sized salad, start by pouring about one ounce (about 1/8 cup) of your vinegar into a bowl or a handy-dandy salad dressing shaker.  Add a little salt--start with about 1/8 teaspoon--and some freshly-ground pepper.  I typically use mustard with most vinegars except for balsamic.  If you're using balsamic, mix and skip to the next step.  Other vinegars benefit from a little bit of mustard.  Add about 1/2-1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.  (For me, this is a flavor thing.  I prefer less mustard, so stick to about 1/2 teaspoon, but you might like more, so play with it!) Whisk or shake these ingredients together.
  2. Pour in about three ounces of oil (1/4 + 1/8 cup).  Extra virgin olive oil is my go-to oil, but feel free to experiment!  Whisk or shake it to combine.
  3. Now, this is the most important part...taste it!  Stick that finger in there and give it a lick.  What does it need?  More salt?  Add a little!  Some herbs?  Add some!  Too tart?  Add a little more oil!  You get the idea.  Here's where you can play with the flavors.
  4. Now pour on your salad, toss, and enjoy! (You can store your vinaigrette in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about a week.  Sometimes the oils can solidify, so if that happens, just take your vinaigrette out of the refrigerator about an hour before using it.)

Now, if you've noticed, in the pictures I have a beautiful little OXO Salad Dressing Shaker.  OXO was kind enough to send one to me to try out and another to give away to a lucky reader!  Now, typically, I use a bowl and a whisk because I'm at the point where I don't need to measure anymore, but I do use this shaker quite often as well.  I had an old Tupperware one, but the opening was too small, so whenever I used shallots or other chunkier ingredients, they always got stuck while pouring.  This shaker, though, has a great wide opening, and so far, nothing has ever gotten stuck in it.  It's also pretty leakproof--I even let my two year old "help" me cook by shaking the salad dressing, and nothing ever leaked out.  And finally, my favorite part about this is that, as opposed to my bowl and whisk method, I can make this and then easily store it in my fridge for later use.  When I use this shaker, I'll double or triple the recipe to use throughout the week.  I think the only drawback is that I taste often while making vinaigrettes, and when you twist off the lid, the dressing can run down the sides a bit.  Nothing a paper towel can't fix, though!

So, on to how to enter!  Just follow the directions below.  The first one is mandatory, but the others are optional extra entries...just don't forget to comment for each entry!
  1. Leave a comment on this post.  Feel free to share your favorite homemade salad dressing, tell me about problems you've had in the past making your own, or just tell me hi!  :-) (mandatory)
  2.  "Like" The World in My Kitchen on Facebook and come back here to let me know. (If you are already a fan, just say so in the comments below.)  (optional)
  3. Subscribe to The World in My Kitchen in an RSS feeder. (Make sure to come back here to let me know that you did this!)  (optional)
  4. Follow me on Twitter and retweet this post. (Make sure to come back here to let me know that you did this!) (optional)
  5. "Like" OXO on Facebook and come back here to let me know.  (optional)
That's a total of 5 possible entries! (Make sure to create a separate comment for each one below.) I will choose a winner with a random number generator. The giveaway will close on Wednesday, June 27th at 10:00pm EST.

**This contest is open to those with a U.S. address. 

Disclosure: This product was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.

 Subscribe to free updates from The World in My Kitchen


Victoria Wheeler June 20, 2012 at 3:38 PM  

I haven't made my own salad dressing before, but I have a friend who does and its awesome! I should probably start.

Victoria Wheeler June 20, 2012 at 3:38 PM  

Also, I read you in an RSS reader.

Victoria Wheeler June 20, 2012 at 3:39 PM  

And I already like you on Facebook.

Jenn June 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM  

I was wondering why so many salad dressing recipes call for mustard, now I know. My favorite is still the good ol' balsamic vinaigrette. I also love this creamy garlic dressing http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/creamy_garlic_dressing.html

The Southern Fried Bride June 20, 2012 at 5:13 PM  

I like the OXO page on Facebook. FB name: Angela Alpaugh

Heather Anderson June 20, 2012 at 7:08 PM  

Hi! This is a great reminder and makes salad more special! Love your blog!

Michelle June 20, 2012 at 7:51 PM  

Nice looking salad, Mindy. Keep poaching those eggs! 1. We're partial to sherry vinegar and shallots here. But I don't know the proportion, because my husband always does it. We just shake it up in an old Bon Maman jelly jar. Nice looking shaker, though. So fancy! 2. Already did that. 3. Already did that. 4. I'll do it next time I'm on twitter (which doesn't happen very often). 5. Will do.

My McDonald Meal June 20, 2012 at 10:04 PM  

I love making homemade dressing. Barbara Napier from Snug Hollow makes one of my favorites in her cookbook. It uses nutritional yeast.

My McDonald Meal June 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM  

I already follow you on FB. :)

amy beth marantino June 21, 2012 at 8:11 AM  

my favorite homemade salad dressing is a mustard vinagrette

amy beth marantino June 21, 2012 at 8:13 AM  

i "Like" The World in My Kitchen on Facebook

amy beth marantino June 21, 2012 at 8:13 AM  

i Subscribe to The World in My Kitchen in an RSS feeder.

amy beth marantino June 21, 2012 at 8:13 AM  

i Follow on Twitter and retweeted this post.

Anonymous,  June 21, 2012 at 8:14 AM  

I love making Buffalo Ranch dressing. Would love to win the shaker. Cindy at cjbrick@ymail.com

Anonymous,  June 21, 2012 at 8:15 AM  

Cindy at cjbrick@ymail.com I follow you via email.

Anonymous,  June 21, 2012 at 8:16 AM  

Cindy at cjbrick@ymail.com I follow you via FB.

Anonymous,  June 21, 2012 at 8:17 AM  

Cindy at cjbrick@ymail.com I follow you via Twitter.

Anonymous,  June 21, 2012 at 8:18 AM  

Cindy at cjbrick@ymail.com I follow OXO via FB.

Darcy June 21, 2012 at 1:59 PM  

Yay! Exciting giveaway! When in France I was totally converted to their basic balsamic dressing, which typically did include mustard. I haven't completed given up ranch or italian, but I love that I can make homemade dressing quickly and cheaply, it tastes awesome and it doesn't make me feel as guilty as say ranch would!

Having a dressing mixer thing would be great! Right now I just used a coffee mug because we generally make it in small quantities for just us 2.

Darcy June 21, 2012 at 2:00 PM  

Of course I am already a fan of yours on Facebook!

Darcy June 21, 2012 at 2:01 PM  

I don't subscribe to you via an RSS reader because I don't think I use one at all, period...but I do receive your emails - does that count? :)

Darcy June 21, 2012 at 2:02 PM  

I now like Oxo on Facebook, too :)

Anonymous,  June 22, 2012 at 11:02 AM  

I still make that beet, arugula and goat cheese salad you had on your blog a few years ago :) I have used that dressing on other salads as well. A salad dressing shaker would be awesome.

milagro1121 June 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM  

Hey it posted as anonymous :( oh well this is Jen Glazier and I like you on facebook.

Ellen June 22, 2012 at 6:55 PM  

Hey Mindy! I was converted to homemade salad dressings in France, too. So tasty and so simple!

Ellen June 22, 2012 at 6:58 PM  

I subscribe to you through Google Reader.

Ellen June 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM  

And I liked you on Facebook!

meredith m June 22, 2012 at 8:35 PM  

ive used too much oil sometimes when i've made my own dressing
mermont84 at yahoo.com

meredith m June 22, 2012 at 8:36 PM  

i Like The World in My Kitchen on Facebook
mermont84 at yahoo.com

meredith m June 22, 2012 at 8:37 PM  

i "Like" OXO on Facebook
mermont84 at yahoo.com

meredith m June 22, 2012 at 8:38 PM  

I Subscribe to The World in My Kitchen in an RSS feeder.

meredith m June 22, 2012 at 8:39 PM  

i follow and tweeted https://twitter.com/mermont84/status/216329492912799745

Cyndi Fine,  June 22, 2012 at 9:59 PM  

I just subscribed through Feedburner...can't believe I've never done that ;-)

Cyndi Fine,  June 22, 2012 at 10:07 PM  

Yea! I know you know how many times I have asked you to remind me how to make your salad dressings, now I can just come here and check it out (heaven forbid I just write it down)!! You Dad's favorite is the dressing you use for your Strawberry Tossed Salad. (These posts are all out of order because I started on my Kindle, but it never showed up here...maybe that will be good luck for me)

Cyndi Fine,  June 22, 2012 at 10:09 PM  

I already "Like" your blog on FaceBook.

Cyndi Fine,  June 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM  

I "Liked" OXO on FaceBook.

MommaMary June 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM  

I like a tart Balsamic Vinaigrette I just use a recipe I found on another cooking blog.

MommaMary June 24, 2012 at 10:12 PM  

I now like The World in My Kitchen on Facebook

MommaMary June 24, 2012 at 10:15 PM  

I subscribed to The World in My Kitchen in an RSS feeder maryhcochrane@yahoo.com

MommaMary June 24, 2012 at 10:16 PM  

I already liked OXO on FB

the andersons June 26, 2012 at 1:11 PM  

I got on your website today exactly for this-a salad dressing recipe, so great timing...thanks!

jordanrae June 27, 2012 at 5:39 PM  

I love making my own mustard vinaigrette :)

Eva Leonard August 2, 2013 at 5:30 PM  

Gosh! I always love vinaigrettes, it adds up spices and texture to the salad I'm eating. I always try new things in my kitchen when it comes to vinaigrette creating, yes, I'm such a fan for this.

Isobel Howell August 3, 2013 at 3:35 PM  

I've never tried creating my own vinaigrette at home usually, my mom or my aunt do it. I think, that's mainly because they taste better that's why, I'm just happy not learning to create it myself though, right now, I'm considering of learning it because I wanted to try out the recipe you've got in here.

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