There are moments in each of our lives that we can point to as defining moments. The moment we were born, the moment we learned to ride a bike, the moment we took our first solo drive, the moment we met the person we would spend our life with.
At 9 months, Mademoiselle is having a lot of those moments in rather rapid succession. The moment she slept nearly all night for the first time, the moment she started to crawl, the moment she realized Madame could walk away from her, the moment she stood without holding on to something. And those are just the moments I recognize. I’m sure she’s flooded with life altering moments daily that go unnoticed by anyone but Mademoiselle. Moments before which and after which, life looks nothing alike. And after which, we have a hard time remembering what came before. What was life like before she ate strawberries? Before she could sit up? Before she smiled? Even I have a hard time remembering.
Everything You Need
Certainly making one’s own vinaigrette can hardly compare to crawling for the first time. It certainly didn’t require the mastery of any new motor skills, although it has changed my life and by extension, the lives of all my immediate family members. These are the top five ways that making my own vinaigrette has irrevocably altered life in our home:
(1) I will NEVER dip my veggies in ranch or butter again (not even artichokes).
There is something about the bright but rich flavor of a classic French vinaigrette (white wine vinegar,olive oil, and dijon mustard) that brings out the best in veggies. Plus, vinaigrette, for some reason, never feels heavy or particularly guilt-inducing for me, unlike eating 2 tablespoons of ranch or half a stick of butter for instance…
(2) I will NEVER buy another bottle of salad dressing.
While I haven’t yet ventured into the world of creamy dressings (I’m going to have to start making this at home first), we consume mostly vinaigrettes anyway, and as fond as I am of Girard, Brianna, and Paul Newman, their bottled dressings just can’t compare to homemade, fresh vinaigrette. Not to mention, my vinaigrettes have no hidden ingredients. I’m not donating a portion of the proceeds from each of my vinaigrettes to charity, but I’m sure Paul understands.
(3) I will ALWAYS own at least 3 types of vinegar: balsamic, white wine, and apple cider.
I can make enough variations of vinaigrette with these 3 vinegars to keep me busy for a long time. Strawberry salad with goat cheese and candied pecans over spinach? Balsamic. Apple salad with blue cheese and toasted walnuts over butter lettuce? Apple cider. Everything else? White wine. I will certainly be experimenting with other vinegars (champagne, sherry, red wine, etc.) and oils (walnut, pistachio (?!?), sesame, grapeseed, etc.), but my fallback vinegars will likely always be balsamic, white wine, and apple cider.
(4) I will ALWAYS have dijon mustard in the house.
For years, we had mustard in the house for use in sandwiches and sandwiches alone. An 8 oz jar of mustard, likely spicy brown, could loiter in the fridge for a year before finally reaching the last spread. Since purchasing my first jar of Maille Dijon mustard at Cost Plus 3 months ago, we have gone through two 14 oz jars and have started our third. Not only has the mustard gone into vinaigrette, it’s also made it’s way into sauces for fish and chicken and Monsieur’s daily eggs as well as the customary sandwiches. I found these bad boys at the Gucci HEB this week and now dream of my own cork-stoppered pot of Edmond Fallot dijon mustard.
(5) I will make 90% of my vinaigrettes to order, that is, moments before they will be consumed, in limited quantities, without a recipe.
It’s certainly possible to make a large bottle or jar of dressing ahead of time and stash it in the fridge and I have, but what I’ve found recently, is that I prefer the flavor of vinaigrette I’ve just made over the vinaigrette that I made 3 days ago. I don’t know if it’s because the ingredients are out of proportion when poured from a larger bottle or that the oil is less fresh, but it’s just not as good. In yet another “who am I and where did this come from” thought, suddenly, making my own vinaigrette immediately before a meal occurs as simple and easy to do. I guess it’s become a habit.
So, I challenge you to make your own vinaigrette this week. After trying the proportions in both French Kids Eat Everything and How to Cook Everything, we’ve settled on a 1 Tablespoon vinegar to 2 Tablespoons oil ratio. So here’s our base recipe. This recipe dresses 2 salads. It can easily be scaled up or down.
3 T Vinaigrette
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard (try to find one without added sugar, like Maille or Trader Joe’s)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (you could also use shallots, if you’re fancy)
- salt and pepper to taste (For us this is generally 4-6 turns of the grinder)
If you want balsamic vinaigrette, substitute balsamic vinegar for the white wine vinegar and omit the dijon mustard. How easy is that? For apple cider, substitute apple cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar and replace the teaspoon of mustard with a teaspoon of honey (if you’re in the mood for something a little sweet). I’ve also seen restaurants substitute caramel for the honey in an apple cider vinaigrette (the salad was pomegranate and hazelnut over mixed greens).
Once you’re comfortable making one basic vinaigrette, the others suddenly become much easier, even natural, and you may find yourself experimenting with flavor combinations, adding fresh herbs, and all in 30 seconds or less. You’ll wonder why you ever spent $5 on a 16 oz bottle of salad dressing that had been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. I know I did.
What’s your favorite salad dressing?