For the sake of variety, we generally try to branch out with our vegetable side dishes; yet for the sake of convenience, the regular old green salad appears on our weekly menu at least a couple of times per month. Lately I can almost always count on Dan to ask “Is this your dressing?” every time we have salad, no matter what combination of salad veggies and leafy greens we happen to be eating. By “your dressing” he means — in the most complimentary way — the homemade balsamic vinaigrette I make that we both love. I take his question as a compliment because I’m generally more of a recipe follower than creator and can count on one hand the number of recipes I feel like I created (and even then, they are based on researching and tweaking other people’s recipes for the same thing.) The vinaigrette is simple — honey, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper — but goes really well with pretty much any green salad we’ve ever dressed with it, even as it tends to taste a bit different each time, depending on what’s in the salad. Basic and easy, yet consistently praise-worthy and versatile is my kind of recipe. Now it can be yours too.
Start by whisking together the lemon juice, honey, Dijon, salt & pepper and minced garlic (you could also use granulated garlic if you don’t have any fresh garlic, just use about half as much.)
Then whisk in the balsamic vinegar. I use half high-end balsamic (the expensive stuff), half regular. I don’t know that the expensive balsamic tastes any better, but it’s definitely thicker, which helps with the consistency of the finished vinaigrette. And using half of the cheap stuff makes the good vinegar last longer and keeps the dressing from being too syrupy. Win win.
Finally, slowly add the olive oil while whisking the other ingredients to emulsify everything together. Keep whisking until the oil is completely blended. I usually use higher-end extra virgin olive oil (more expensive than the stuff we use for cooking) because the good quality oil has better flavor. Taste the vinaigrette and adjust the ingredients as needed (I sometimes add a bit more salt and maybe another squeeze of lemon juice.)
This recipe makes about 1/3 cup of vinaigrette total, which is enough for a couple big salads for us. The dressing should last for a week or two in an airtight container in the fridge, but you may need to add a little more olive oil and balsamic to thin it out a bit after a few days. Serve drizzled over the salad of your choice and proudly claim it as your own homemade dressing (even if nobody asks.)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably 1 tablespoon thick, good-quality vinegar and 1 tablespoon regular)
- ¼ cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, Dijon, garlic and salt & pepper. Next whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking and continue whisking until the oil is completely blended with the other ingredients.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.