simplest vinaigrette

In a lot of ways this feels like a totally bogus excuse for a post. Everyone knows how to make delicious salad dressing out of what’s in the pantry, right? Oddly, this is probably my most requested recipe, so I thought I would post it here. I have to give a hat tip to my sister, Hope, who taught me to make salad dressing. My attempts at making salad dressing were all over the place before she took me in hand. She tends to be rather orthodox in her approach to most things, and she was very clear on what needed to go into vinaigrette. Nothing earth-shattering—but there was nothing on her list that could be left out, and nothing else she thought should be added, either.

Over the years, I have come to believe that it is true—the ingredients in salad dressing are simple and available in your pantry, but it’s not something I am ever tempted to go messing around with. True, I use a different vinegar each time (I keep white balsamic, apple cider, sherry and rice vinegars in the pantry), but the rest stays the same each time. I have never measured what goes into the dressing until now. So when my mom called the other day for the “recipe” I kind of stammered out what I thought was in it—but like everyone else I do it totally by eye.

So you can take this recipe or leave it. I bet your vinaigrette is really delicious, and you like it just the way you make it. But if not, shake this up in a little jar and use it throughout the week. There is never a good reason, in my opinion, to pay for bottled salad dressing. If you adopt my point of view you can have not only great salad, but also a satisfying sense of thrift and moral superiority to boot. (Just kidding. Kind of.)

Simplest vinaigrette

This quantity makes enough for a generous salad for four.

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (cider, white balsamic or sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 smashed garlic clove
  • coarsely ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients except for pepper in a small jar. Shake, shake, shake. Check bottom of jar to make sure honey is totally incorporated. Taste a little of the dressing and make sure it isn’t too tart or too sweet. (It depends on your vinegar.) Add more honey or vinegar as needed.

2. Shake immediately before pouring over salad greens. Toss vigorously. Grind medium or coarse black pepper to your taste, and give salad a final toss. Serve immediately.


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2 Responses to simplest vinaigrette

  1. Theo

    Where do you get your sherry vinegar? I’ve not been able to find it in supermarkets…

    • joy

      Hi, Theo! I get mine at a little Italian produce and grocery shop here in New Haven–not on purpose, it is just where I happened to be shopping when I ran out. You can pay a lot for it, but the bottle I have is terrific and I think it was $7, and it’s a good size. It’s from Jerez, obviously, so maybe check in a Spanish specialty store? Whole Foods (or, “Whole Paycheck” as I like to say) also definitely carries it.

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