Make Your Own Salad Dressing

Make your own salad dressings! Store bought salad dressings are fine and all, but one of the real joys of home cooking is that there are all sorts of little things you can do that are easy as heck, and which elevate the final result from “fine” to “oh wow, this is friggin’ great!”

Making your own salad dressing is one of the easiest ways to step up your cooking game. You will only need the following items:

-Olive Oil

-Some kind of acid*

-Dijon mustard

-Salt & Pepper (Yes, this counts as one thing in my book, as you need both of these in your kitchen at all times)

-A fork or wire whisk

-Some sort of jar, bottle, or other relatively high-sided vessel

*The acid component is where you can stretch out in experiment, since anything vinegary or uhm, acidic, will fit the bill. Here is a partial list of acids you can use for this: lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, etc.

So! You’re ready to make your dressing. Drop a bunch of glugs of oil in your vessel. Add your acid – you want less of this component than you might think you do. Ideally, the ratio of oil to acid should be somewhere around 3:1. But don’t worry about measuring to specifically! You’re not making a souffle here. I’ve never measured these out, and it’s never been a problem.

Next, grab a tiny amount of Dijon mustard and plop it in your mixture. The mustard here isn’t for flavor so much as it’s used as an emulsifying agent, which is just a fancy way of saying a thing that helps the oil and juice/vinegar/whatever actually come together into a single, unified substance. It will also help to thicken up your dressing to actual salad dressing consistency. Anyway, once your mustard is in there, drop in some salt and crack in some pepper, then start beating the bejeezus out of this mixture with a fork.

Beat it for a couple of minutes, and keep an eye on it. Is your mixture starting to blend together into a single whole? That’s great, keep going until it’s all smooth and homogeneous and shit. Are your oil and vinegar still separated? Are there giant clumps of mustard still floating around in there not blending in? Don’t get discouraged! This is part of the process. Add some more mustard if your oil and acid are still separating. If your mustard is still clumping up, there’s not much to to but keep breaking it up with your fork as best you can. It’ll get there, trust me!

And hey, look! After only about 5 minutes of whisking, you all of a sudden have a salad dressing. It’s all blended together and smooth and bright and it looks like one single thing, instead of the three or four things that you started with. Give it a taste, add some more salt if you need to, and you’re all set! Dress yourself up a salad immediately, but if you don’t have a salad handy this will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It may separate slightly in the fridge – just give it a good shake and you’ll be all set.

Now taste your salad with the dressing. Isn’t it magnificent? Is it not both rich and punchy and altogether tasty as heck? I thought so! And that took you what, 10 minutes total? Was it not a cheap and easy way to improve on the store bought stuff? That’s right, it was both of those things. Now go forth and make your own salad dressing!

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