This isn't really a recipe. It's just the rough framework I use as a springboard for creativity and to avoid the mass-produced grocery store dressings and over-involved recipes I've tried. I whip this up in the last minutes of dinner prep, easy peasy, adjusting it slightly so that it complements whatever we're eating. Don't be dismayed or annoyed by my lack of specifics! Just try it out, adjust to taste, and you're good to go.
What you need at bare minimum:
a jar or small container that seals tightly
Put equal parts vinegar and oil into a jar and shake it vigorously for a minute or two and you've got yourself a vinaigrette!
Just kidding, but only a little. Adding just a few more ingredients makes it much more flavorful. Salt and pepper of course. A crushed clove of garlic. A touch of honey and a little Dijon.
I go by this framework: equal parts fat and acid, salt, pepper, sweet, and then extra ingredients that boost and deepen flavor. I combine all the ingredients except the oil so that I can get an idea of the taste and then I add the oil and shake, shake, shake.
How much of each? This is something you'll have to play around with and just go by instinct and taste. For a single dinner's salad I make maybe 1/4 cup of vinaigrette, so maybe 2 Tbsp each of vinegar and oil. Honey and dijon are potent ingredients so really only a touch is necessary - maybe 1/2 tsp each. I use a whole clove of garlic because what would I do with the rest?
So here are a couple examples of vinaigrettes I might make:
My most basic is red wine vinegar, olive oil, a clove of garlic, a touch of honey and Dijon, and salt and pepper.
If we were eating Middle Eastern or Mediterranean, I would swap out the red wine vinegar for lemon juice instead.
For Mexican food, I might substitute lime juice for the vinegar, vegetable oil for the olive oil, and add fresh cilantro at the end.
For BBQ, I would make a ranch. So mayo for the fat, buttermilk for the acid, dried garlic powder, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, a little mustard, and some dried parsley and/or dill.
There are so many possibilities and you can make it exactly to your taste.