If there's one thing I think that everyone should know how to make it's a vinaigrette. Tart, fresh, and dead simple, it's the thing that can take a save you from a sad desk lunch and actually make you WANT to eat a salad. At its most basic, a vinaigrette is simply a mixture of fat (oil) and acid (vinegar or citrus juice). The addition of an emulsifier (like mustard, mayonnaise, or honey) helps to thicken it and prevent separation, and things like herbs, salt and pepper, finely minced shallot, or garlic help to give it unique flavor profiles.
What follows is my formula for a Foolproof Basic Vinaigrette. I use the word "formula" loosely because you can (and should!) make all kinds of adjustments/substitutions to it to accommodate your preferences. For example, you can use pretty much any kind of oil you prefer, although I recommend using something high quality with good flavor on its own since this "sauce" doesn't get cooked. You can also use whichever kind of vinegar (or citrus juice) you want, although my go-to is always apple cider vinegar, as I love the tangy flavor. You can use honey or mayonnaise as an emulsifier instead of mustard if you'd like. And you can use something as simple as salt and pepper to season it or kick up the flavor a few notches and add your favorite A Bite of Good Spice Blend. My favorites for vinaigrettes are the Herbes de Provence, the Dijon Mustard, Greek Island, the California Seaside, the Spanish Sunset, the Five-Chile Harissa, and the Spicy Turmeric, depending on what's going into my salad or what kind of mood I'm in.
Finally, if you want a fully emulsified vinaigrette (one that won't separate), you'll need to spend a little extra time slowly mixing the oil into the other ingredients (using a whisk or food processor/blender). But if you don't mind the fact that you need to shake your vinaigrette before drizzling it, then all you need is a container with a tight-fitting lid and about 2 minutes to throw everything together. I'll give you one guess as to which team I'm on...
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (use up to 3/4 cup if you prefer a less tangy vinaigrette)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (use as little as 1/4 cup if you prefer a less tangy vinaigrette)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or honey, if you prefer a slightly sweeter vinaigrette, or mayo if you want a creamier mouthfeel)
1 teaspoon of your favorite A Bite of Good Spice Blend
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot (optional)
Place all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid (like a mason jar or glass bottle) and shake vigorously to combine. Drizzle liberally on all your favorite foods.