This creamy strawberry vinaigrette dressing will make just about any salad perfectly flavor balanced, with just a few ingredients. The blender (or food processor) does all the work so it’s ready in just 5 minutes.
A vinaigrette is simply an oil and vinegar mixture that can be flavored in many different ways. The general rule of thumb for the proportion is 3 parts oil to one part vinegar. So, for example, if you start with 1 Tbsp of vinegar, you would use 3 Tbsps oil. This is really just a starting point. If you prefer your vinaigrette more sour, you might go with 1 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp oil.
From this point the goal is to balance the sour of the vinegar and the bitterness of extra virgin olive oil. So, a sweetener in the form or agave, maple syrup, honey, sugar or even brown sugar will bring some balance. I prefer a liquid sweetener since it will more easily mix in. And again the amount of sweetener depends on your preference and the sweetness of your strawberries.
Salt is an excellent way to balance bitterness and make everything taste better. Salt has the ability to make all the flavors in a dish taste stronger.
Sour, bitter, sweet salt – those are the basics. Now add some flavor and interest. Just a few strawberries takes this vinaigrette from basic to wow! Here’s the key. Before you mix up the vinaigrette, taste one of the strawberries, Is it very sweet and flavorful? Is it a little more tart? Is it barely tasty? This will help you decide how much sweetener and salt to add. Both will help to bring out the strawberry flavor better.
I prefer fresh, organic strawberries. But if strawberries are not in season, they may not be very sweet or flavorful. Frozen strawberries can be a great option. Just thaw them before using.
I highly recommend going organic when it comes to strawberries. Strawberries in particular have been shown to have higher levels of pesticide residue than other produce. The Environmental Working Group a good resource on this issue.
If you want a perfectly smooth texture, without the strawberry seeds, run the blended mixture through a fine mesh strainer. I honestly don’t notice the seeds once the vinaigrette is on my salad. They break down pretty well with the speed of the blender blade. But if you are a “texture” person like my husband, feel free to strain.
How to Make a Vinaigrette
Of course, in culinary school I was required to use just a wire whisk to mix up a vinaigrette, but modern appliances are way better! If you have a blender, food processor or immersion blender, this recipe will be ready in 3 minutes. Really, just put all the ingredients in the bowl and whirl. The speed and power of the blade will make this a wonderfully creamy dressing that doesn’t separate like a basic oil and vinegar. This mini food processor is my favorite tool for making vinaigrettes and sauces. It is much lighter than a full sized food processor and its small size fits in my very crowded kitchen cabinets!
Food tastes great when it is a balance of 2 or more flavors – sweet and salty, sweet and sour, bitter and sweet. A vinaigrette includes all four flavors balanced more towards the sour. The great thing about it is that, it’s easy to adjust the flavors to your preference. So I suggest that you start with the recipe as is. Mix it up and taste. Do you want it more sour? Add vinegar. More salty? Add salt. You get it . . .
The key is to add just a LITTLE at a time, stir it in and taste. You can always add more but it’s difficult to take it out. If the dressing tastes a little blah, vinegar, sweetener and salt are all flavor enhancers. So pick the one (or more) of these that fits your taste and add a little.
Extra virgin olive olive oil varies quite a bit from brand to brand and blend to blend. It can be quite bitter. If your vinaigrette tastes BITTER, salt is an excellent way to tame bitterness. Salt can enhance the flavor of strawberries that need a little oomph. Add a couple of pinches, stir and taste.
A pinch of red chili flakes is included in this recipe. This is meant as a flavor enhancer and will not make the vinaigrette spicy.
Easy Strawberry Vinaigrette Recipe
- 4 medium sized fresh strawberries*
- 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sweetener-agave, maple syrup, honey, sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 pinch red chile flakes or black pepper
- 1 pinch black pepper
- Rinse the strawberries and trim off the stem.
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl (if using immersion blender), food processor or blender. My favorite tool for this is a mini food processor. NOTE that the red chili flakes in a small amount will not make the vinaigrette spicy. It is meant as a flavor enhancer.
- Run on high for 30 seconds to one minute. The mixture should be smooth and pink.
- Taste. If you prefer to remove the strawberry seeds, run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
- Taste. Adjust the flavors to your preference. Is it missing that vague something? Add a couple of pinches of salt. Do you prefer it more sour? Add 2 tsp of vinegar. More sweet? Ad 2 tsp sweeter? Is it too sour? Add 1 Tbsp oil.
- Store this vinaigrette in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for about a week. If it thickens too much after refrigerating, heat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds or leave at room temperature for 1 hour.