Round the Table: Vinaigrette DIYs for any salad

Making your own salad dressing is one of life’s simpler pleasures and unlike most of those simple pleasures, it’s quite easy. Basic vinaigrette dressings are not an exact science and don’t require any fancy gadgets or ingredients. Measurements can be inexact or tweaked to your personal taste; nothing is set in stone.

After the New Year celebrations are over, January can be bleak; however, January and early February offer citrus fruit as a balm for our cold weary souls.  Serving a crisp salad alongside the normal pillars of winter cooking, rich stews and casseroles, can brighten more than our taste buds; a citrus vinaigrette gives us a burst of sunshine to help make it through the winter.

As with most classic sauces, a vinaigrette relies on a formula rather than a recipe and that formula is roughly one part acid to three parts oil. Need enough for one salad? Use a tablespoon measurement. Making salad dressing for a crowd? Use a larger measurement.  Acids include citrus juice or vinegar and oils can range from light salad oils to heavier olive oils, choose whatever suits you.  A basic vinaigrette is a blank canvas.

For these vinaigrettes, we are turning to citrus for the acid; lemons, limes, blood oranges and grapefruit offer sweetness and tang to liven up your salad.  While citrus is the primary acidic ingredient, I like adding a small splash of a mild white wine vinegar to take some of the sweet edge off the citrus and add an extra zing.

For each vinaigrette, you will need four ingredients, plus a jar with a tight-fitting lid:

  • ½ minced shallot (medium sized shallot)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Take that basic ingredient list and plug in one of the following citrus/herb combinations and after a quick shake in your jar, you will have bright, citrus sunshine ready to pour over your salad.

This one dresses a salad perfectly to serve along with chicken or fish, but if you really want to shake things up then roast a head of cauliflower whole (simple remove the core, oil the surface completely and roast in a 400°F oven for 45 minute to an hour or until the cauliflower is well browned and tender) and drizzle with this vinaigrette.

A few simple ingredients and the correct formula will help you turn out a stellar vinaigrette every time.

Lemon Thyme

Yield: about 1 cup

  • Zest and juice of one large lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (if you want them chop, then chop after measuring)
  • 1/2 minced shallot
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (start with a pinch and taste and adjust after adding the oil)
  • ¾ cup of olive oil

Place the first 5 ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and swirl the jar to combine; add the olive oil and place the lid on the jar. Cover with a kitchen towel, if desired, and shake the jar until the dressing is well mixed.


Toss oven roasted beets with crumbled goat cheese and this vinaigrette and serve on a bed of baby kale and spinach for a warm and hearty winter salad.

Blood Orange Mint

Yield: about 1 cup

  • Zest and juice of 2 medium blood oranges
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • ½ minced shallot
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup of olive oil

Place the first 5 ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and swirl the jar to combine; add the olive oil and place the lid on the jar. Cover with a kitchen towel, if desired, and shake the jar until the dressing is well mixed.


Milder and sweeter than onions, shallots really shine in a citrus vinaigrette.

Add pistachios and crumbles of tangy goat cheese to your salad and toss with this vinaigrette when shrimp are on the menu. This vinaigrette also pairs well with maple glazed pork chops.

Grapefruit Basil

Yield: about 1 cup

  • Zest and juice of ½ of a large grapefruit ( l like Ruby Red)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • ½ minced shallot
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup of olive oil

Place the first 5 ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and swirl the jar to combine; add the olive oil and place the lid on the jar. Cover with a kitchen towel, if desired, and shake the jar until the dressing is well mixed.


Add part of a shaved fennel bulb and some baby spinach leaves to your salad and pair with this one; it’s delicious with roast chicken or pork.

Orange Oregano

Yield: about 1 cup

  • Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ minced shallot
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup of olive oil

Place the first 5 ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and swirl the jar to combine; add the olive oil and place the lid on the jar. Cover with a kitchen towel, if desired, and shake the jar until the dressing is well mixed.


When chili or Tex-Mex is on the table, you’ll want this tart and tangy vinaigrette to add some sparkle to the spice.

Lime Cilantro

Yield: about 1 cup

  • Zest and juice of 2 large Persian limes
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ minced shallot
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup of olive oil

Place the first 5 ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and swirl the jar to combine; add the olive oil and place the lid on the jar. Cover with a kitchen towel, if desired, and shake the jar until the dressing is well mixed.