This year marks the fourth in a row I’ve planted a vegetable garden of any considerable size.
With a mere 150 square feet, I only grow what I know I’ll eat, and only the easy stuff—tomatoes, peas, zucchini herbs and lots of lettuces, for the most part. I humbly admit I am a below-average, somewhat lazy gardener. By September I am truly sick of weeding and harvesting, yet somehow, each April, I’m eager to dig in again.
While gardening may not be in my wheelhouse, it does present me with the chance to practice one of my favorite skills: salad dressing. Creamy dressings are usually my first choice, but garden veggies really shine best with a truly great vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette is quite simple to make using a standard 3:1 ratio of almost any oil or vinegar. Once seasoned with salt and pepper, it’s customizable with nearly any herb and may be flavored to taste with shallots, garlic, mustard and honey.
When it comes to vinaigrette, there’s really just one rule: top quality ingredients. Since oil and vinegar comprise the bulk of the dressing, each should taste good on its own— and by that, I mean straight off the spoon.
For me, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil is the gold standard, and I prefer a rich, fruity Greek oil. Kowalski’s extra virgin olive oil checks the boxes here. Similarly, I also choose Kowalski’s balsamic vinegar. From the Modena region of Italy (where the best balsamic in the world comes from), its sweet-tart flavor is particularly smooth.
With a great base covered, you can riff on this recipe endlessly. I like a bit more vinegar than is typical and go heavy on the pepper. You might prefer a little extra honey.
Any way you shake it (in a screw top jar—leave the measuring cups and spoons in the cabinet!), vinaigrette is the perfect way to enjoy your garden goodies all summer long.
Best Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serving: 1 cup
- ½ cup Kowalski’s extra-virgin Greek olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. Kowalski’s Italian balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, if desired
- 1 Tbsp. minced shallots, if desired
- 1/2 Tbsp. freshly chopped herbs (such as parsley, dill and chives), if desired
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground Kowalski’s black peppercorns, or more to taste
In a screw-top glass jar, combine oil and vinegar; add mustard, shallots and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Screw on lid; shake vigorously
until well combined. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Rachael Perron is the culinary & brand director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications.