Open your refrigerator and check out the door shelves. How many partially used bottles of store-bought salad dressings do you see? I used to wait until the “use by” date passed so I could chuck them into the trash without the guilt. I never knew that making your own salad dressing was incredibly easy, or that homemade dressings could add so much freshness and taste to a bowl of greens.
I’ve always loved a good vinaigrette on my salads, especially in warm weather. In Atlanta, we warm up around April and don’t cool down till November, so salad season is pretty much year-round. But I also use vinaigrette as a marinade for grilled chicken, or drizzle it on wraps.
Vinaigrette is a salad dressing that is a mix of oil and something acidic, usually vinegar. Traditionally, the oil to vinegar ratio is 3:1. This vinaigrette dressing is a basic, well-balanced recipe that uses ingredients you most likely have in your pantry.
Start with a high-quality olive oil. Many brands out there, just make sure it’s a first cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil. As for the vinegar, again, lots of choices. This basic recipe uses white wine vinegar, but you can substitute red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or my favorite, balsamic vinegar. The balsamic will add another carb per serving, but sometimes its just worth it. If you’re not a fan of vinegar, try citrus juice – lemon, lime or orange.
Use a good quality dijon mustard like Maille or Grey Poupon; both provide a lovely little zest of flavor. It also serves to emulsify the oil and vinegar which helps to keep the oil and vinegar from separating.
To round out the tang of the vinegar, I like to add “a little something sweet.” I use Truvia nectar, which does have a touch of real honey, but only adds 0.5 carbs per serving. Another sweet add-in would be a sugar-free syrup like Mrs. Butterworths. Either one will help mellow out the acidity.
I prepare my vinaigrette in a food processor, but you can use a blender, or a mixing bowl, whisk, and some elbow grease. Start by blending/whisking together the vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallots, Truvia nectar/sugar-free syrup, salt and pepper. Basically, everything except the oil. The next step is the most important: slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar mixture while you’re blending or whisking. If you try to add all the oil at once, it won’t emulsify into the vinaigrette as well and your dressing will separate.
Now let’s talk about variations on this classic vinaigrette. Add 1/4 cup of fresh herbs to the vinegar mixture before the oil (basil, cilantro, oregano, mint, thyme) for a pop of fresh garden flavors. Toss in 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, feta, or Gorgonzola cheese to your prepared vinaigrette for a blast of added texture and taste. If you like it hot, sprinkle in red pepper flakes.
Raspberry vinaigrette is one of my favorite variations. I love a bowl of crunchy greens loaded with fresh veggies like cucumbers, broccoli, celery. Chop up a hard-boiled egg and grilled chicken or fish for a fabulous lunch or dinner dish.
Store leftover vinaigrette in the refrigerator in jar or container with lid. Refrigerating homemade vinaigrette usually results in the dressing hardening a bit, so you’ll need to heat in microwave for a few seconds and stir before serving. Since all ingredients in this recipe are natural (unlike store brands), I’m more than happy to spend a few extra seconds remixing!
Zero Carb Homemade Vinaigrette
- 3/4 cup first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1.5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Truvia nectar Or sugar-free syrup
- Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor, blender, or mixing bowl.
- Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase to high speed and blend for additional 30 seconds. If hand whisking, make sure ingredients are blended well before moving on to the next step.
- With food processor or blender on high, slowly drizzle in olive oil into the vinegar mixture. This should take between 60 to 90 seconds. Continue blending on high for additional 30 seconds. If hand-whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil with brisk and continuous movements until oil is well-incorporated.