Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

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I did an almond week a few weeks ago, with recipes for almond paste and both chocolate and plain almond bars. Looks like this week is turning into lemon week, with slightly healthier recipes than almond week. I know citrus season is really in the winter, but I love the fresh brightness of lemon as the weather starts to warm up.

Every time I mix up my own salad dressing I wonder why I ever buy it. It goes together in minutes and it tastes so much better than anything you can find on store shelves. Plus, when you make it yourself you can tailor the flavors to suit your tastes.

I like vinaigrette in any form, as long as the vinegar isn’t too strong and there isn’t too much oil. A few weeks back I was thinking about salad dressing and decided to make one with lemon juice as the acid, instead of vinegar. I like my dressings with more than a little sweetness, so I included honey too.

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When I was first mixing up the dressing I used too much olive oil. I just need to accept that I don’t like dressings with even equal parts oil and acid. Many recipes call for twice as much oil as acid, which is almost unimaginably oily to me.  I had only one lemon, and I didn’t want to introduce vinegar to the mix and risk overpowering the lemon. I tried a little water, which worked beautifully to counteract the oil without adding any flavor. After lots of adjusting, including lots of tasting, I got the ratio of oil to lemon to honey where I wanted it.

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The second time I made it I used two lemons and the same amount of olive oil and I liked it even better. Both times I used quite a bit of honey to make it a sweet tart dressing. If you don’t like sweet flavors as much as I do, feel free to reduce the honey.

I have been eating the dressing on everything from plain greens to salads with every vegetable I can find – the tart sweetness complements everything I have tried so far. When I made a salad the other night I had grocery store spinach and garden lettuce. I combined them with freshly chopped apple and tossed the salad with the honey lemon vinaigrette. It was a supremely simple salad, but it was light and refreshing – perfect for a hot summer evening.

Download or print recipe here.

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette
From The Cook’s Life
Makes about 1 cup

I like to make my salad dressing in a jar so I can easily shake it to mix it. The serving jar serves as a storage jar for simplicity, and fewer dishes.

2 tablespoons lemon zest (zest of two lemons)
⅓ cup lemon juice (juice of two lemons)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
pinch salt, or to taste
a few grinds of black pepper, or to taste

Use the smaller amounts of olive oil and honey to start. Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake until combined. Dip a piece of lettuce or other salad green in the dressing and taste for seasoning. Add olive oil and honey if the lemon is too sharp or if you want more sweetness. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a month. The olive oil will rise to the top and solidify when chilled – remove it from the fridge to warm up a few minutes before serving. Shake or mix well before serving.

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