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..........It's Just That Simple!

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All About Vinaigrette


If there is a rule of thumb when it comes to vinaigrettes, it would be the ratio of oil to vinegar to be 3 to 1. As long as you always remember that, you will not have to look up vinaigrette "how-to's" ever again. Just don't reverse the ratio or you will be puckering worse than if you just swallowed alum. Let's talk a little about each.

The Oils
For the most part, any oil labeled vegetable or salad oil will be just fine for making vinaigrette. Safflower, canola and soybean work just as well also. Many chefs substitute olive oil for the salad oil, but remember to use good, extra virgin olive oil rather than the cheaper varieties. I have used walnut and avocado oil with tremendous success as well. The list of oils you can use is endless so experiment.

The Vinegars
Although white vinegar is the most neutral of all vinegars, it isn't often used in vinaigrettes. If you want to use a white vinegar, use white wine vinegar. Try balsamic, sherry or even raspberry vinegars for a more diverse taste. The best vinegar for a vinaigrette to use with fruity and most vegetable-laden salads? Apple cider vinegar! Vinegar made from fermented rice(rice wine vinegar) is perfect for vinaigrettes too.

Choose any kind of oil you like (olive oil, canola, walnut, etc) and any kind of vinegar (champagne, red wine, blueberry, whatever) and go to town. Mix and match to your pleasure. You can also add other ingredients like the pesto, mustard, or fresh or dried herbs. The possibilities are endless.

The Juices
We all know that lemon juice is great in vinaigrette because it always enhances the vinegar as opposed to replacing the tart taste. Lemon juice mixed with oil alone is delicious served atop a fresh summer salad of fruits and vegetables. Try lime or orange juices, with their high acid content, to cut through the oil. They add sweetness, which counterbalances the tartness and helps to stabilize the emulsion.

A quick tip? When you add honey or maple syrup to a vinaigrette, it acts not only as another sweetener, but it helps keep the vinaigrette emulsified for a longer period of time.

While wonderful vinaigrettes can be made by simply combining an acid, oil, and seasonings, a more stable emulsification can be achieved by adding binders. To stop the emulsification from separating, add mustard, honey, miso or an egg yolk to the vinegar mixture before whisking in the oil.

How to mix vinaigrettes
I find the most effective way is using a blender, which is something everyone has(especially when you have children who adore milkshakes). If you are one that doesn't have one, go out and buy one for $10 or simply combine everything in a glass or stainless steel bowl and whisk thoroughly. Why not use aluminum? Because the acid sometimes can react, which produces a metallic flavor. I know people who put all the vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar, tightly screw the cap on and shake like crazy. It works very well I might add. One thing to remember is that all ingredients should be at room temperature because if the oil were cold, the emulsion will take forever to form.

With the example recipes below, simply put all the ingredients in one container at once and have at it as directed above.

All About VinaigretteItalian Vinaigrette
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 t. minced garlic in oil
1/2 t. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Sweet Dijon Vinaigrette
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 T. Dijon-style mustard
1 T. honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

Balsamic Vinaigrette
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. minced, fresh herbs (for example parsley, chives, tarragon, thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette
1/4 c. lime juice
3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

 

The Yankee Chef™
 ..........It's Just That Simple!