If this fabulous Sweet Basil Vinaigrette could talk, it would be shouting “summer!” It’s sweet, tangy and bursting with vibrant, delicious basil flavor!
This Sweet Basil Vinaigrette recipe was first published back in 2011, the year Scott and I began this fun journey called “The Café”. I had a ton of basil growing in the garden that summer and wanted to come up with a salad dressing that would not only utilize my bounty but also capture the “essence of summer”.
The first blog picture (there was only one in the post) of this delicious dressing was taken with my cell phone and, as you can imagine, it wasn’t a work of art. But the recipe became super popular over the next few years and readers have written to say things like:
It really isn’t summer until I make your wonderful basil dressing. I could drink it with a straw!
This stuff is SO good! I made it the first time a few months back and ate most of it myself with some crusty bread. I have since been having major pregnancy cravings for it, so I made a trip to the store and stocked up on basil and bread. I’ll try not to eat it all before my husband gets home!
This was absolutely delicious! My teenage son, who has only ever eaten ranch dressing on salads, actually tried to lick the bowl. My poor basil plant looked like a Dr. Seuss plant after I took all the leaves and left only stems, but it was worth it. Thank you!
I love this dressing and make it several times throughout the summer.
Love this dressing…make it every 2 weeks for my lunch salads! You’re right—wintertime means more expensive and less plentiful basil, but this recipe has spoiled me for store-bought dressings. I can only eat homemade now!
I just wanted to say this is my FAVORITE dressing. I’ve never found a recipe better than this one. Thank you!
We republished the recipe in 2014 with new pictures and text but, with over 1200 recipes, this wonderful basil salad dressing has once again gotten buried in the deep, deep Café archives. And it’s WAY too delicious to get forgotten, so we tweaked the recipe just a bit, took some new pictures and spiffed up the post for your summer enjoyment!
If you think that making a beautiful, delicious dressing like this Sweet Basil Vinaigrette is difficult, think again! Simply throw all the ingredients except the oil into a blender or food processor and push the button. Let it go until everything is pureed and transformed to a vibrant green, then drizzle in the oil. Check out the Café Tips below for an easy way to do that!
This basil dressing is fabulous on lots of different salads. It’s wonderful in a simple green salad (spinach, arugula, butter lettuce, etc.) but it goes well in salads with fresh corn, zucchini, eggplant, peaches, summer squash, blackberries, raspberries, nectarines… almost any summer fruit or veggie. My all-time favorite pairing of this Sweet Basil Vinaigrette is with tomatoes. And if you have some homegrown, still-warm-from-the-sun tomatoes, you might just think you’ve died and gone to heaven!
I love to stack sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella then drizzle the piles with this beautiful, emerald green, vibrantly fresh dressing. And if I’ve got some juicy, ripe peaches to layer with the tomatoes and cheese, it makes a beautiful presentation and adds another layer of summery flavor. A scatter of buttery toasted pine nuts and a few fresh basil leaves are the crowning glory. It’s one of those salads you dream of, all winter long!
If you don’t grow your own basil, FIND SOME! This is the time of the year when basil starts going crazy. Friends and/or neighbors would probably be thrilled to give some of their bumper basil harvest a happy home. The more you cut basil, the more vigorously it grows. It’s also readily available and quite inexpensive at farmer’s markets and vegetable stands all summer long. Find some and whip up a batch of this “summer-in-a-jar”. When you take the first delicious taste, you’ll start thinking that summer didn’t really arrive… until now!
Café Tips for Making this Sweet Basil Vinaigrette
- This recipe calls for 2 cups of fresh basil. That’s a lot of basil! If you get a craving for this fresh, delicious dressing and basil is not plentiful, it can be made with less. I’ve made it with as little as a half-cup of basil. It doesn’t have the intense, vibrant flavor but it works.
- You can use either a blender or food processor to make this Sweet Basil Vinaigrette. Just add everything to the container or bowl except the oil and puree until smooth and vibrant green. Then add the oil in a slow drizzle. This is easy to do with a food processor (through the chute) but it’s a little trickier with a blender. A found a great little trick for this: simply take off the center insert from the top of the blender and place a small-mouth funnel in its place. Then just drizzle the oil in through the funnel. The funnel also blocks the opening so the green liquid doesn’t splash out.
- If you don’t have a funnel, another easy (and mess-free) way to add the oil is to place a piece of plastic wrap over the top (uncovered) of the blender container. Push the plastic wrap down a bit (so it droops), then cover with the blender lid. Remove center insert from the blender cover (usually clear plastic) and poke a few holes in the plastic wrap with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Slowly add the oil, adding more as it drizzles down into the basil mixture.
- This dressing also makes a wonderful sauce for grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, etc. It adds so much flavor and pizzazz and also makes a beautiful presentation!
- Try this Sweet Basil Vinaigrette as a dipping sauce for bread. Pick up a good baguette and serve it with small bowls of this vibrant green sauce. It would make a fun appetizer or a unique side for a dinner party!
Thought for the day:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
What we’re listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
If this fabulous Sweet Basil Vinaigrette could talk, it would be shouting "summer!" It's sweet, tangy and bursting with vibrant, delicious basil flavor!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed about ¼ pound
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1-2 tablespoons water Start with one tablespoon, if dressing seems too thick, after blending, add the second tablespoon.
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup neutral-flavored oil sunflower, grapeseed, avocado, canola oils all work well
Combine all ingredinets except the oil in a food processor or blender. Puree mixture until smooth and bright green.
With motor running, slowly add the salad oil to form an emulsion. (See Café Tips above in the post for tricks on how to do this.)
Store in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator. Dressing keeps for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Makes about 1½ cups of dressing.