Walk into a supermarket and you’re met with a constellation of choices. Shelves of various dairy-free milks. Row upon row of different nut butters. Dozens of bottled salad dressings in every imaginable flavor.
It’s convenient to buy these items, but there’s also value in learning to make them yourself. You might discover that your favorite version of vinaigrette includes a dab of spicy horseradish. Perhaps you’ll be happier blending up some nut milk at home and avoiding the gums and emulsifiers in most commercial brands. You may find it cost-effective to make your own ghee, or simply enjoy the ability to mix up a homemade pesto that tastes exactly how you like it.
Think about these as flexible formulas rather than strict recipes. They’re all customizable — each can be seasoned to suit your tastes, or tweaked to include whatever greens, herbs, or nuts you have in your kitchen. Once you’ve mastered the steps, you’ll be able to keep your favorites on hand to add some extra flavor to your next meal.
Makes about 1/4–1/3 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 1 tbs. acid (lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice vinegar, apple-cider vinegar, white-wine vinegar, or red-wine vinegar)
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbs. oil (extra-virgin olive oil, toasted or untoasted sesame oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, walnut oil)
Mix-Ins (optional; pick one or more from the list below)
- 2 tbs. minced fresh herbs or 2 tsp. dried herbs (parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, chervil, dill, basil, mint)
- 2 tbs. something creamy (mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream, crème fraîche, mashed avocado, coconut cream)
- 2 tsp. something flavorful (horseradish, tahini, mustard, sriracha, chili garlic paste, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce)
- 1 ½ tsp. minced aromatics (garlic, shallot, ginger, chili pepper, scallions)
- 1/2 tsp. citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
- 1/2 tsp. sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave, granulated sugar)
In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients except the oil. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.