Want to transform humdrum dinners into mealtime magic? It's easy! Hit the kitchen armed with these genius tips and simple recipes from our Every Day experts, and your friends and family will wonder if you went to cooking school on your lunch break!

Lesson 8: Dress for Salad Success

For stunning salads, reach for a mixing bowl instead of a bottle. Homemade vinaigrette is easy and the flavor combos are endless. Just remember "One part acid to three parts oil," and you'll be a greens goddess.

pouring salad dressing on a salad
Credit: Photography by Christopher Testani

1. Start with an acid

Experiment with milder, sweeter ones like orange juice, lemon juice and rice-wine vinegar (you'll want to use more in these cases), or turn up the
tang with red-wine, white-wine, sherry, balsamic or cider vinegars. Also try combining acids—like rice-wine vinegar and lime juice—for a more complex flavor. If you want a thick vinaigrette, whisk in an emulsifier like mustard, mayonnaise or honey (about 1 teaspoon for every tablespoon of acid).

2. Whisk in oil

EVOO works with everything, but you can swap it for any flavored oil, like hazelnut, walnut or toasted sesame. Slowly stream in the oil as you whisk the mixture. Dressings made with an emulsifier will stay thick and combined. Those made with only oil and acid will separate as they sit. No biggie: Just whisk again right before using.

3. Tinker with flavorings

Fresh herbs, dried spices, soy sauce... here's where you can have some fun. Take up the heat by whisking in crushed red pepper or chopped jalapeño or canned chipotles. Embrace herbaceousness with chopped herbs like basil, chives or thyme. Or get decadent and whisk in crumbled cheese. Then season to taste.

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