I’m sure we have all figured out that I love the idea of “go-to’s.” Actually, not the idea but the reality of them. They make my life so much easier. Things like a lunch-packing formula, or side dishes that don’t require my brain, help me to do the necessary things so I can move on to more important ones.
We host a lot of big meals in our house. Specifically, over the summer we feed about 200 people over ONE MONTH and then repeat the next month. If there is ever a time for me to need a go-to, it’s crowd-pleasing dinners. I almost always have a yummy salad with toppings. Or sometimes just a simple, flavorful dressing. But I really, really prefer homemade dressings. And I honestly think it can not only save some money, but you get to be the boss of what goes in it.
There are two lifesavers in our house, and the recipes for them are probably the most requested ones of anything I make. I’m going to share them over two posts so that they are easy for you to find. The first is a balsamic vinaigrette and the second, a creamy ranch. No more hidden valley packets! What’s so awesome about them, is they are really just a formula. No balsamic? Great. Use a different vinegar or acid. Got some fresh herbs you need to use up? Go to town. Take the formula and don’t be afraid to make adjustments.
Here’s the first one.
Go-To Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe
3/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar (or just about any flavored vinegar)
3 cloves Garlic peeled and left whole
2 TBSP Honey (I started leaving this out during Whole30, still haven’t gone back)
2-3 tsp. COARSE Ground Black Pepper (adjust based on preference, just not the powdery kind)
1 TBSP Water
Pinch of Salt
1 1/4 c Olive Oil (Or another type you prefer. I use Extra Virgin and it is not too strong in this recipe).
Put everything BUT the oil, in your blender and blend it up. With your blender running, remove the lid. Don’t turn it off and take the lid off and then turn it on. When you do it will explode. You’ve been warned. Now. SLOWLY drizzle a thin stream of the oil in while blending. Resist the temptation to rush it. Done. Taste and adjust your pepper and salt. Feel free to add herbs if you like. Oregano goes pretty well with this one.
Just a note. It will probably seem a bit runny, but it will thicken considerably in the fridge. Sometimes I even nuke it for a few seconds so I can shake it up after it has chilled. I double this easily and it keeps for ages.
Go make your salad. Get you some lovely field greens or romaine. Top with goat cheese, cherries and maybe some candied pecans. Pour on this dressing and toss. Once the goat cheese melts into the balsamic, it takes it to another level.
So that’s it. It’s super easy, delicious and incredibly forgiving. Hope it’s in your rotation as often as it is ours. Don’t forget to check back for our Go-To Ranch recipe!