I made a big batch of this dressing last week and have been gleefully pouring it over wedge salads every night at dinner, including the one pictured above with romaine and kalamata olives. This dressing is so perky and vibrant, and yes, also quite mustardy! The flavor works well with most salad toppings and greens, and makes every bite of salad totally crave-able. Best of all, this recipe is so simple to make and stores well in the fridge, so you can make it easily and often!
The reason why this dressing works is because mustard contains a good amount of natural lecithin, which is an emulsifier. This natural ability to mix oil and water together creates a perfectly creamy vinaigrette. This vinaigrette is able to stay creamy both on your salad the whole time you are eating it and while the dressing is being stored in the fridge between uses. The emulsification power of lecithin is your secret weapon to create perfectly stable creamy vinaigrettes at home, so embrace the power of science in this recipe!
While the terms “emulsification” and “lecithin” may sound scary – don’t fear! “Emulsification” is simply the process of combining oil and water using an “emulsifier,” a molecule that effectively bonds to both water (polar) and oil (nonpolar) molecules. Emulsifiers essentially form a chemical bridge between the two phases of oil and water, allowing them to become one creamy blend. Without the presence of emulsifiers, oil and water will never fully mix together, as you may have experienced through making home-made vinaigrettes that separate shortly after mixing. With an emulsifier present, the oil and the water phase are chemically bonded together, which prevents breaking. Science is fun!
Lecithin is a prime example of naturally occurring emulsifiers. Lecithin is a molecule found in mustard seeds, as well as in egg yolks and soybeans in much higher concentrations. Lecithin gets its emulsifying powers from being an amphiphilic molecule – meaning it can bond to water on one side, and fats on another! This ability to bond to both water and fats make it the perfect bridge between the two phases, meaning lecithin is an incredibly effective emulsifier!
This dressing is the perfect application of lecithin at work, as you can watch the mustard easily combine the oil and vinegar together with some simple whisking. The nerdy food scientist in me always thinks about emulsification whenever I make this recipe, so I couldn’t help but share a little food science knowledge as the intro to this blog. It’s fun to know how recipes work, and mustard vinaigrettes are an awesome learning tool!
Recipe down below, photo up top! This recipe makes enough for about 4 big servings of dressing, so it’s great for meal prep or to have on hand for the week.
Three Ingredient Mustard Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- In a small bowl, Mason jar, or sealable container, add the Dijon mustard, vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk to fully combine.
- Feel free to add additional flavors at this point, such as some fresh or dried herbs, additional salt (if needed), or black pepper.
- Seal and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Use desired amount needed for salads throughout the week.
Want to learn more food science facts? Check out my post about xanthan gum and ice cream here!