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Vinaigrettes Made Easy


Vinaigrettes Made Easy

Perhaps because vinaigrettes can transform an otherwise ordinary bed of greens into a delicious salad, we tend to think of them as being difficult to make. But, the truth is, they are easy and fun to create. During summer camp this year, our kids ate more than their share of leafy greens and vegetables especially when dressed with a fresh squeezed lemon and Bellwether honey vinaigrette. Simple yet effective.

You will need to remember two things: The magic formula 1:3, representing the ratio of acid to oil when making vinaigrettes and the secret ingredient which is the limit of your imagination. Often at our adult retreats, guests ask for my vinaigrette recipes and if they are available for purchase. I tend to make them fresh prior to each meal but the purpose of this article is to encourage you to make your own delicious versions.

The challenge is to achieve a balance between the acid and oil, so the flavor of the acid comes through and is not dominated by the oil. The acids come in a variety of options ranging from vinegar, to fruit juices, to malted barley. In the summer camp vinaigrette example, I used fresh squeezed lemon juice as the acid. Oils can vary in cost and flavors. They can serve to simply carry the flavors in the vinaigrette or contribute flavor as well. I used a light canola salad oil for the lemon-honey vinaigrette. It is ok to dilute a more intense oil with canola. For example, 2/3 canola and 1/3 sesame might work. In addition to acids and oils, a third ingredient is seasonings. Feel free to add salt, pepper, herbs and spices to enhance the final flavor.

We all know that oil and water do not mix in nature which explains why vinaigrettes separate no matter how hard you whisk or shake them. They form a temporary emulsion. We can introduce emulsifiers which help bring the oil and water together and form creamy dressings that cling to vegetables and other ingredients in your salad. Emulsifiers help stabilize the dressing while adding flavor. Use them sparingly because a little goes a long way. Some examples of emulsifiers include: egg yolks, mustard (usually Dijon), roasted garlic, fruit or vegetable purees, mayonnaise, honey, maple syrup, tahini, mashed avocado and even a small amount of tomato paste. In the summer camp vinaigrette example, honey served as both an emulsifier and sweetener.

People are often concerned that they only need enough dressing for two people. Not to worry, the magic formula, 1:3 still applies. If I’m feeding twenty to thirty people, 1 cup of acid to 3 cups of oil works well. But a teaspoon of acid to 3 teaspoons of oil would make a smaller batch. If you need a little more dressing, ¼ cup of acid to ¾ of oil should get you there. You get the idea--the 1:3 ratio should work for any volume. Just remember to taste your dressing for balance as you create it.

How do we pull it all together? I like to use a Vitamix when preparing vinaigrettes. You can use a blender or simply a bowl and whisk for small amounts. Make sure you begin with the acid then add the seasonings and emulsifier to it. Then, SLOWLY incorporate the oil to help facilitate the emulsification process.

Here are some examples for you to try. But remember, the secret ingredient after you apply the magic formula is to let your imagination run free.





White wine vinegar

Olive oil

Maple syrup


Red wine vinegar

Avocado oil



Apple cider vinegar

Flaxseed oil



Lemon juice

Grapeseed oil



Orange Juice

Sesame oil



Let me know how your vinaigrettes are turning out, and Bon Appetite!

Chef Lonny

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