Buying salad dressing can be expensive. Making your own isn't that hard. Here's the basic recipe for a vingrette, a vinegar and oil dressing:
1/3 c. vinegar
1/2 c. oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
Put everything in a tightly capped bottle and shake well. Refrigerate for one hour to let the flavors blend.
Simple, yes? The dressing will separate, so serve it in the bottle with the tight lid so people can shake it right before serving. Some people will be tempted to cut down on the oil in the dressing because they are watching their weight. Don't. The oil helps the rest stick to your salad. Just use less of it. And make sure you use a good oil, any oil will do but a good olive oil or canola oil will taste good and be good for you.
Now for the fun part - variations. Don't be afraid to experiment. Try a flavored oil or an exotic one. Try a gourmet vinegar. Try other spices or herbs. If you aren't sure, just cut the recipe down and try a little. Here are some ideas:
Sesame dressing: substitute 2 T. sesame oil for 2 T. of the oil in the recipe. Add 1 t. lemon zest (the yellow part of the peel, grated and chopped fine), 1/2 t. garlic powder, and 1 T. toasted sesame seeds.
Italian: Add 1 T. finely minced onion, 1 t. finely chopped garlic, 1 t. dried oregano, 1 t. dried basil, and 1 t. dried parsley.
Ceaser: Use the Italian variation and add 2 T. finely grated parmesan cheese.
Red wine dressing: Substitute red wine vinegar. Add 1 t. dried rosemary and 1/2 t. garlic powder.
Balsamic sweet dressing: Substitute balsamic vinegar. Add 1 T. sugar, 1/2 t. dried thyme, and 1/2 t. rosemary.
Orange ginger dressing: Substitute orange juice for the vinegar. Add 1 t. orange zest (the orange part of the peel, chopped fine), 1 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. onion powder, 1 T. soy sauce, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Use more if you like it spicy.
Peanut curry dressing: Mix 1 T. creamy peanut butter with the oil until smooth. Whisk in the vinegar, salt, pepper, 2 t. curry powder, 1 t. onion powder, 1/2 t. garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Go try something new with your salad dressing.