Easy Homemade Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

We eat salad almost every night in our house and my husband brings one for lunch almost every day too. That translates to quite a bit of salad dressing!

I used to buy my dressing at the local market, and didn’t pay much attention to the ingredients. Now that I do read nutrition labels, I’ve realized that many of the brands out there are full of unhealthy vegetable oils (mainly soybean and canola), sugar or even high fructose corn syrup and other artificial flavorings. Besides, store-bought dressings are expensive compared to making it yourself.

Here is my basic recipe for vinaigrette that is so easy and so versatile at the same time. The beauty of this recipe is that you can change it up depending on what you have on hand! Use it as a “template” and use your imagination!

salad dressing made easy

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Easy homemade salad dressing


Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, white/red wine, or fresh lemon juice is great too)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (avocado and walnut oil work well too)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard or mayonnaise (to emulsify and make it creamy)(optional) (to emulsify and make it creamy. This is optional)
  • 1 T dried herbs (herbs de Provence, Italian blend or whatever you like)
  • 1 clove chopped garlic (optional)
  • 1 T chopped onion or shallot (optional)
  • 1 T raw honey or maple syrup (optional) (I wouldn’t use with balsamic as it will get too sweet, but great with lemon or apple cider vinegar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients into a glass jar or dressing cruet, shake and serve! 

Recipe Notes

This recipe lasts us about 3-4 days. I keep it out on the counter, no need to refrigerate (but you can if you plan to keep it longer).

Arugula & Butternut Squash Salad

Salad, generally defined as mixed greens with dressing, has been a big part of our food history. Interestingly, medical practitioners like Hippocrates and Galen believed that the raw vegetables in salads “easily slipped through the system so do not create obstructions for the meal that followed” so salads were served before meals. Hence, the term “dinner salad.”

Even though my family lives in a cold climate, we can still enjoy raw vegetable salads throughout the year. That can be a lot of salad, so I need variety and I use the seasons to inspire my creativity!

Here’s one of my favorites that we eat during Fall when the squash is plentiful. Arugula too, will grow until the first frost, so sometimes you can still find local. If not, I can always find it at the store. It has a really nice, peppery flavor that pairs well with fruit or sweeter vegetables. The balsamic dressing marries the flavors of the fruit and lettuce perfectly!

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Arugula & Butternut Squash Salad
Course: Salad
Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 1 small or half large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small 1” pieces
  • Coconut oil or ghee for roasting squash
  • 1 container or bag baby arugula (preferably organic)
  • 2/3 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/3 cup small slices red onion
  • 1/2 cup strawberry pieces, blueberries or raspberries (optional)
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese (optional)
Balsamic salad dressing:
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (you can substitute a raspberry vinegar here)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp dry herb blend (italian, sunny paris, herbs de provence)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Add oil or ghee to baking pan and melt if needed. Add cut up butternut squash pieces to pan and spread around so they are in single layer, sprinkling lightly with sea salt. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until they are browned on edges. Cool on separate platter.

  2. Toast nuts in pan over medium heat for 30- 60 seconds (watch them, so they don’t burn)! You don’t have to do this step, but it does make the nuts just a little tastier!

  3. Add arugula, onion slices, cooled squash, berries and toasted nuts to salad bowl. Add cheese if using. Toss with the salad dressing right before serving.

  4. To make the dressing: Mix all ingredients in a salad dressing container or glass jar, shake to mix.