There are three basic types of salad dressing: vinaigrette, creamy, and mayonnaise (see Mayonnaise for a recipe). Variations are created by adding other ingredients.
Standard proportions for a vinaigrette are 3 or 4 parts oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice, adjusted to suit individual tastes or the acidity of the vinegar or lemon.
Measure the vinegar into a small bowl or bottle; add salt ( 1/4 teaspoon per ¼ cup vinegar) and pepper (‘1/8 teaspoon per 1/4 cup vinegar); stir until dissolved. Add olive, vegetable, or other oil. Stir briskly with a fork or whisk, or shake in a bottle until blended. Taste; adjust the proportions if desired.
You can vary a vinaigrette according to the salad ingredients. Add basil for tomato salad, dill for cucumber. Tarragon, chervil, parsley, and chives are all good with greens. For strong-tasting greens, such as chicory, endive, or arugula, you can add mustard ( 1 teaspoon prepared or 1/4 teaspoon dry per cup of dressing), a crushed garlic clove, or anchovies that have been soaked in water then rubbed through a sieve. Fora meat salad, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the pan juices (fat removed). Curry powder, grated onion, capers, or chopped shallots are other good additions.