Dress up your greens with homemade balsamic vinaigrette

"Home with the Lost Italian" food columnist Sarah Nasello says just seven ingredients combine to make this staple salad dressing right at home.

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Sarah's Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette boasts a zesty blend of sweet-and-sour flavor that will liven up any salad.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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FARGO — Balsamic vinaigrette is a staple salad dressing in our home, and I cannot believe it has taken me nearly 10 years to share my recipe with you.

I love making salad dressings from scratch, and this tangy vinaigrette is one of my favorite choices for transforming a simple pile of greens into a savory and delicious salad.

I love the simplicity of this recipe, which consists of just seven ingredients: balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Balsamic vinegar has a specifically bold and tangy flavor that works well with other strong flavors, and you do not need to buy the best bottle to achieve a great result — even the store brand will work fine.

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Seven basic ingredients are all you need to make Sarah's Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette: extra-virgin olive oil (from left), honey, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I use honey in many of my salad dressings, and this natural sweetener is a terrific way to thicken the dressing and a touch of sweetness to balance the punchy tang of the vinegar and create a lovely sweet-and-sour taste. Dijon mustard is another common ingredient in my vinaigrette repertoire, and here it further enhances the tart nature of the vinegar and serves as an emulsifier to help the dressing come together.

A clove of fresh garlic enriches this vinaigrette with spice and depth of flavor. Finely minced garlic is best for this recipe, and you can use a sharp knife, a grater or a garlic press to get this done. If you do not want to use fresh garlic, you can add a half teaspoon of garlic powder instead.


"Home with the Lost Italian" food writer Sarah Nasello says this pasta salad is loaded with bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado.

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A clove of finely minced garlic brings spice and depth of flavor to Sarah's Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

When making a vinaigrette, I often use an equal blend of vegetable and extra-virgin olive oils, but for this recipe I use only olive oil. The reason for this is twofold: first, extra-virgin olive oil brings great flavor to the dressing, and I recommend using the best quality you can find; and second, the thicker viscosity of the olive oil helps the dressing achieve a rich and velvety consistency.

Some recipes for balsamic vinaigrette recommend mixing it in a blender or food processor, but I find that whisking it by hand produces a thicker dressing, which I prefer. Whichever way you choose to mix it, be sure to add the olive oil last, in a slow and steady stream while mixing constantly, until the dressing becomes lighter in color and the ingredients are fully emulsified.

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Extra-virgin olive oil is the last ingredient to be added to the dressing, and it is important to pour it in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing becomes lighter in color and fully emulsified.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

This balsamic vinaigrette will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about two weeks, and I store mine in a Mason jar so that I can easily give it a good shake before using. This is a wonderful dressing to have on hand for salads and sandwiches, and it also works well as a sauce or marinade for grilled vegetables, chicken and steak.

If you are looking for a new way to dress your salads, you are just seven ingredients away from having this rich and zesty Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette become a staple in your home. Enjoy!

Reminder: The annual Mistra Estates Extra Virgin Olive Oil order season opens on Friday, July 15. You can find more information about the history of this liquid gold and how to order it at

"Liquid Gold" follows the story of Peter Schultz and how a bottle of olive oil connected Greece with the American Midwest. In this documentary film and five-article project, a reporter and videographer join a group of Midwesterners as they travel to the cradle of Western Civilization with Schultz, learning life-changing lessons about slowing down, eating for pleasure and connecting with others to make the world a better place. "Liquid Gold" is a project of Forum Communications.


Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Makes: about 1 cup
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until well-combined, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until fully emulsified, about 2 minutes. The dressing is ready when the color becomes lighter, and the ingredients are fully combined.

To store, transfer the dressing to a jar or other airtight container and refrigerate. This dressing will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. Shake container or whisk vigorously before serving.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at
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