Mason jar with marker indicating where the oil and vinegar should be poured.


DIY Shake-Together Dressings

May 30, 2017

There are plenty of ways kids can help out in the kitchen that doesn’t require heat and knives — now that spring has arrived and salad ingredients are back in season, an easy task for young kids is to shake together a salad dressing. It’s a great way for kids to experiment with flavours, and if you have a dedicated salad dressing jar, you can mark levels for oil and vinegar right on the side, and let them get cheffy with garlic, herbs and spices, and other additions. Screw on the lid, shake it up, and you have a fresher, tastier dressing for a fraction of the cost of store-bought. Bonus: kids might be more likely to eat what they’ve made themselves.

Birds-eye-view of salad dressing in mason jar.

Broken down, vinaigrette is no more than oil and acid, usually in the form of vinegar or lemon juice. Go for a mild oil, like canola or olive (or a combination), and the vinegar (or lemon juice) you like — white or red wine vinegars are classic, but balsamic is popular, especially with a drizzle of maple syrup.

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The traditional ratio is 3:1 oil to vinegar, but it’s really something you can adjust according to your taste. After that it’s a free for all — try adding orange juice, finely crushed or roasted garlic, fresh or dried herbs, or an emulsifier such as mustard to make your dressings blend more smoothly and stay that way without separating. Often a teaspoon of honey or sugar is added as well, but that too is a matter of taste. To make a creamier dressing, add a spoonful of mayo or splash of heavy cream. And if you want to use larger quantities of fresh herbs or other ingredients that require pureeing (try a couple stalks of rhubarb, simmered until soft, for a pale pink dressing), pour everything into a blender and let the kids press the button.


Oil and vinegar dressing side-by-side with a pink dressing.

Homemade Vinaigrette

This is vinaigrette at its most basic: feel free to add your choice of additions, such as a clove of crushed garlic, dried or fresh minced herbs, a small minced shallot, finely grated fresh ginger, a drizzle of soy sauce or sesame oil, grated Parmesan cheese, a squeeze of anchovy or olive paste, a blob of wasabi or miso, a dollop of pesto, some poppyseed, a splash or orange juice or pickle brine.

  • 1/2 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey, maple syrup or sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon or grainy mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Oil, mustard and other ingredients for salad dressings.

Put everything in a small bowl or jar and whisk or shake it until it’s well blended. Store it in the fridge for about a week. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Caesar Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard

Caesar salad in a bowl.

Combine everything in a jar or bowl and shake or whisk until smooth. Add a little water (or more lemon juice) if it seems too thick. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


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