Charting the Simple Vinaigrette

  • By Jess Dang
  • February 29, 2012

Before I started Cook Smarts, I was a Power Pointing nerd, and there was no reason I couldn’t bring old business practices into my new life. After all, who doesn’t love a pretty chart? So I dedicate the first Cook Smarts chart to a cooking formula that is probably used nightly in my cooking routine: the simple vinaigrette. I know a lot of you out there use jarred salad dressing. While I consider myself quite open minded when it comes to how people conduct business in their kitchen, this is a practice that I do have an opinion on – just because everyone else is doing it does not make it OK, so I beg you to stop.

Take a moment to think about what exactly is in those bottles. Why do they need to make something that contains good fats fat-free? Why does it contain things that I can’t even pronounce when a basic vinaigrette contains no more than 3 to 4 standard household ingredients? Continue buying your BBQ sauces by the bucket or your microwaveable Indian food packets by the crate, but this is one store-bought shortcut that I promise you won’t miss.

Just take a look at the pretty chart below, and you’ll understand how simple it is to make your own jar of fresh vinaigrette. I take an old glass jar and make a week’s worth to be poured on fresh salads, proteins (fancy up your weeknight chicken with a “sauce”), or cooked vegetables. This is the one slide that I’ve brought to every client, and they’re always surprised about how easy it is and delighted by how good it tastes. And if there is one thing I learned in the business world, the people who share information are much more pleasant to work with, so here is proprietary Cook Smarts info shared with you:

Ratios for Making a Simple Vinaigrette | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang

Some of our favorite combinations:

  • Traditional French: mustard + shallots + red wine or sherry vinegar + olive oil
  • Sweet Tooth: jam/preserves + balsamic vinegar + olive oil
  • Asian Style: minced ginger + soy sauce + rice vinegar + sesame & vegetable oil
  • Mediterranean: tahini + parsley or oregano + lemon juice + olive oil

Two different ways to a vinaigrette (using the ratios specified in the chart above):

  1. Single preparation – In a medium-sized bowl, mix acids and other flavors together. Drizzle in oils and incorporate the oil into the other ingredients with a fork or a small whisk (i.e., emulsify). Season with salt, pepper, and / or sweetener to desired taste.
  2. Bulk preparation – Mix all ingredients in a jar. Cover with a top and give a good shake each time you’re ready to use.

So go ahead and emulsify and shake your bootie off.


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