The first time I ever asked a chef to divulge a secret recipe, it was for a salad dressing. My parents had taken me out to a fancier-than-usual dinner to celebrate my 16th birthday, and we all fell in love with the house salad — which was surprising, since it was really just a simple mix of field greens and cherry tomatoes. Clearly, the alchemy was in the vinaigrette, and with one bite I learned that simple ingredients can become something so much greater than the sum of their parts when combined with creativity in just-right proportions.

*photos by kristen kilpatrick


This post was brought to you by Wolf.

I still have that oil-stained napkin on which the chef generously scrawled the secrets to his legendary recipe, and it became the foundation for the countless other salad dressings I’ve made through the years. By tinkering with that master recipe, I learned that I could swap out lemon juice for orange, or even balsamic vinegar. Instead of minced shallots, I could toss in cilantro and ginger for an Asian flavor profile. My standby recipe because a springboard for endless creativity, and salads became a way to savor healthy seasonal produce using whatever ingredients I was in the mood for (and that happened to be in my fridge.)

In celebration of just these types of foundational recipes that I return to again and again in my cooking, we’ve teamed up with Wolf for their genius “Reclaim the Kitchen” series that’s all about inspiring people to get back in their kitchens, share their go-to meals, and provide practical tips to help new cooks get started. From the basic gear and ingredients everyone should have on hand to must-have techniques like this foolproof vinaigrette, it’s all part of Wolf’s “Reclaim the Kitchen Kit” resource.

Once you learn the basic formula for a perfect vinaigrette, you have the freedom to start freestyling, armed with the confidence that the end result will be balanced and delicious. So with that in mind, I’m spilling my hard-won formula for the perfect vinaigrette. Pin this cheat sheet to your recipe board to refer back to again and again; I included 3 of my go-to versions, but as you’ll see, with the formula under your belt the options really are endless.

When you have a great vinaigrette, the salads themselves can be kept super simple to let the flavors shine. This sweet citrus-ginger vinaigrette is the perfect accompaniment to an Asian-inspired mix of shredded cabbage, carrot, edamame, and cilantro.

I top mixed baby greens, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts with the honey-balsamic vinaigrette. As you’ll see on the cheat sheet, all of these vinaigrettes follow a simple formula of 2 parts oil + 1 part acid + flavorings & seasonings to taste. It’s a winning combination that works, because it results in a perfectly balanced flavor profile. The oil provides a needed dose of richness to the greens, while the acid keeps it zingy and fresh without feeling heavy. As you experiment with more interesting ingredients, you’ll start to develop your own favorite flavor combinations.

Spicy cilantro vinaigrette is perfect over a crunchy mix of chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and corn. Pro tip for perfectly-mixed salads? Use the biggest mixing bowl you have and a pair of tongs to mix everything together and perfectly coat all the leaves before transferring to your serving bowl. Keep scrolling for these vinaigrette recipes, and I’d love to hear in the comments if you have a “house” vinaigrette of your own!

Vinaigrette

Serves

ingredients


For the Orange-Ginger:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the Balsamic:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the Spicy Cilantro:

  • 1/4 olive oil
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 cup cilantro, stems & leaves, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha

 

 

instructions


  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or shake together in a tightly lidded container.
5 comments
  1. 1
    Sophie Stewart | October 13, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Oh this sounds good, must try! Sophie x

    sophiehmstewart.com

    Reply
  2. 2
    Ted | October 13, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Yummy. The orange and ginger seem to be missing from the recipe ingredients.

    Reply
    • Camille Styles | October 13, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Great catch, thanks Ted! Just updated the recipe.

      Reply
  3. 3
    Sabrina B. | October 18, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    A beautiful diagram, thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
  4. 4
    Rhonda | October 22, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Wonderful ???
    Really beautiful, simple & wholesome recipes. Thank you for sharing! SmileyJo (Australia)

    Reply
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