Culinary

4-Ingredient Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

November 30, 2022

WRITTEN BY: Sabrina Tillman

One look at this sunshine-bright lemon vinaigrette and you can see how it will brighten any salad, slaw, soup, oven-roasted veggie, roasted meat or fish. 

Like the little black dress of the kitchen, lemon garlic vinaigrette pairs well with any veggie and any meaty or plant-based protein you can grill, sear, poach, boil, or bake. Spoon on top of baked salmon or cod with a spatter of capers, add a few spoonfuls to pan-seared shrimp, drizzle on a rack of lamb as you roast it, marinate chicken thighs before air-frying, or brush on top of tofu slices while grilling.

Enhance the flavor of any raw or cooked vegetable you can think of — bitter greens like arugula, kale, and Brussels sprouts as well as endive and fennel pair particularly well with the tart pucker of the lemon and sharpness of the raw garlic.

As long as you have fresh lemons in the fruit bowl, the rest of the simple ingredient list uses pantry staples and adds up to four easy mix-ins (not counting the perennial salt and pepper). But the real secret to a fresh, delicious vinaigrette is to use top-quality ingredients and, because there aren’t many in here, you’ll want to use the best oil and fresh lemon juice — concentrate or the juice in bottles in the cocktail aisle doesn’t taste as fresh.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Cultured Oil

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • ½ tsp. lemon zest 

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • Dash of salt

  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

  1. Add all ingredients to a mason jar and screw on the lid. 

  2. Shake until well combined.

Cook’s tip: If you don’t have a mason jar, a clean cocktail shaker can work, too. Just make sure to put the top on tightly before you shake.

How to Serve Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

A no-brainer for salads, this lemon vinaigrette sings when drizzled on any greens but helps tame the bitter bite of vegetables like dandelion greens, kale, arugula, collards, and broccoli rabe particularly well. Toss with raw, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, pan-fried pancetta or sliced chestnuts, toasted and chopped hazelnuts, and shaved romano. 

In the spring, use a vegetable peeler to shave strands of raw asparagus and toss with carrot and zucchini ribbons; drizzle on the lemon-garlic vinaigrette and sprinkle on crumbles of goat cheese or fresh ricotta. 

Use this vinaigrette as a marinade, basting sauce, or alternative to barbecue sauce when grilling. The citrus works wonders for fish, shellfish, and seafood; it also cuts through the richness of fattier cuts of meat like lamb, duck, and chicken thighs. Dot on top of fresh oysters with a little minced shallot or snipped chives, or serve as a dipping sauce for charred octopus.

This versatile dressing adds pizzazz to white pizzas, whole grain bowls, and lentils. Stir into broth-based vegetable soups, tomato-free seafood stew, or a pot of quinoa or couscous before you fluff it. 

More Variations for Your Lemon Vinaigrette

There are plenty of ways to switch up your lemon vinaigrette if you can’t find fresh lemons or you want to vary the flavor. 

  • Use a different citrus fruit: Try lime, grapefruit, orange, or blood orange. 

  • Instead of minced garlic, sub minced shallot, snipped chives, or diced green onion. 

  • Experiment with a dash of smoked salt, fleur de sel, or Himalayan pink salt. 

  • Use crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, white pepper, or smashed Sichuan peppercorns instead of the black pepper.

  • Add a pinch of dried herbs or ½ teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs. Dried herbs de provence, dried oregano, or basil would work. Fresh chopped parsley, rosemary, basil, mint, and thyme — especially lemon thyme — could make lovely floral accents.  

  • Try a dollop of honey to balance the flavors and sweeten things up.

How to Store Leftovers

Place any leftover vinaigrette in a storage container or mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. If you’d like to make a double batch and freeze the vinaigrette, pour into empty ice cube trays and place in the freezer until frozen solid. Remove the frozen vinaigrette from the ice cube trays and place in freezer-safe resealable bags (label the outside of the bag so you know what’s inside). The frozen vinaigrette keeps for up to six months. 

Defrost the vinaigrette in the refrigerator or on the countertop. You can also use the frozen vinaigrette ice cubes to flavor soups, broths, or as a starter for a pan sauce. 

Nutritional Information

Serving: 2 Tbsp.

Calories: 151

Fat: 17 grams

Carbs: 1 gram

Protein: 0 grams

Nutrition info collected from Cronometer.

This delicious recipe was developed and photographed by Courtney Paige.

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