Fab Frugal Friday: The Essential Universal Vinaigrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette Indredient Still Life

The one single thing that has most improved my cooking in the last year or so can be stated in one word: vinaigrette. This magical liquid has more flavor than any substance I know. And, its nutritional value packs a punch, too. Olive oil is universally hailed as liquid gold health food, and balsamic vinegar has health benefits of its own.

Every fabulous and frugal kitchen needs a good “go-to” vinaigrette. You can flavor dishes instantly and very frugally with an all-purpose vinaigrette that is kept in the door of your refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of months at least. My new favorite is made with balsamic vinegar. This vinaigrette is delicious on so many things – a marinade for meats, a salad dressing, tossed with vegetables for roasting, a dip for bread, tossed into hot or cold pasta. The list is endless. I even like to make a simple yet flavorful snack by slicing a hard boiled egg and drizzling some over the slices. The other day I tossed some veggies in it and then grilled them. Yum!

My vinaigrette has a few more ingredients than most. I figure if you’re making something that you’re going to use a lot and will keep for a few months, why not make it just right?  I like the Perfect Pantry’s Basic Vinaigrette, and the Cooks Illustrated version, but jazzed them both up a bit.

As for oil, I use the good stuff for this, since you might want to use it “as is,” without cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is the oil of choice for this, but I also add a little canola oil because the EVOO is very strong and tends to overtake the vinaigrette.

I like to keep it in a small canning jar with a lid so that it can be easily shaken.

So, whip up a batch of this vinaigrette (or your own custom version) and keep it handy – you might want to make a big batch, because I promise you will LOVE it!


1/3 cup high quality balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 medium shallot, finely grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A few dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)

Put in a lidded jar and shake well before using. Will keep refrigerated for 6 to 8 weeks. Flavor is best when served at room temperature.

— posted by Donna

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