Why buy dressing when homemade is so easy and good for you?

Looking for a recipe that you can use on just about any salad? Here’s one to keep in your back pocket. It’s good for springtime, when there are fresh herbs and not much else in the garden, good for summertime, when you can drizzle it over sun-ripened tomatoes. In the fall, this dressing is good on salad greens with crisp apples, seeds and feta cheese. Come winter, toss balsamic vinaigrette on roasted vegetables of any kind, and call it a salad. 

By now, you get the idea: having a solid recipe for vinaigrette is fashionable in any season, and this one is infinitely changeable. Use apple cider vinegar instead of the balsamic, or stir in tarragon in place of thyme. The important ingredient is really good olive oil, a touch of something sweet (not because you want a sweet dressing but because you want to balance all that acid.) 

Make it and store it in a glass container. A metal bowl will change the way the dressing tastes, and in a small glass jar, the vinaigrette will stay better. 

We eat salads all year long, and while I’ll toss just about anything into the salad bowl, from bits of cheese and any leftovers I can scrounge up, I’m picky about salad dressing. No bottled dressing for me, thank you. When it’s this easy, and homemade is this good, why not? 


Homemade Balsamic VinaigretteMakes 1 cup


  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lots of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass bowl and whisk well to combine.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
  3. Keeps for five days in a covered glass container.

Caroline Barrett writes about food and families. She teaches cooking classes at Different Drummer’s Kitchen in Albany. You can find her at www.carolinebarrett.com.