Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better….
When it comes to eating light and fresh, one of the easiest things you can do is swap out bottles of purchased salad dressing in favor of a homemade vinaigrette. Simple, quick, and easy, the basic vinaigrette is truly a thing of beauty. Not to mention it tastes considerably better and avoids any unknown or suspicious ingredients. But there is also a method to the beauty, as making a vinaigrette is more technique than recipe. The key to success starts with good ingredients and ends with emulsification, thoroughly blending the oil’s fat molecules and the acid’s watery base. When properly emulsified, ingredients are suspended throughout the mix, while a broken vinaigrette will have clear separation between the oil and vinegar. Often an emulsifier, such as mustard, honey, or mayo, are added to increase creaminess and keep the dressing from breaking.
Keys to a successful vinaigrette:
Step 1 – Have the right proportion: The traditional ratio of fat to acid in a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. This ratio should be used only as a guide, not law.
Step 2 – Build a flavor base: Shallots, Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, roasted garlic, honey, or soy sauce are excellent additions.
Step 3 – Add an acid: any type of vinegar (white or red wine, sherry, champagne, rice, balsamic, or apple cider), as well as acidic fruit juices like orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit.
Step 4 – Whisk in oil: Slowly whisk oil (extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil, sesame oil, etc…), almost drop by drop, into the mixture, whisking as you go to incorporate and create a creamy, emulsified finish.
Basic Vinaigrette Dressing
This is a bare-bones recipe for a simple all-purpose vinaigrette, which you can vary as you wish.
Yield: 1 cup
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. SLOWLY add 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, whisking continuously until emulsified. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.
Fresh-made vinaigrettes will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator in a covered container. Re-whisk before serving.