Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How-To Tuesday! Vinaigrette

Salad dressing is expensive! A good brand often costs around $5.00 and then you are stuck with it until it is gone. Which, for us, is a while. I love salads, especially in the summer, but we rarely make a traditional green salad. Instead we make bean salads, cucumber salad, potato salad, even coleslaw and each has a vinaigrette to dress it with because I prefer vinegar based salads to creamy salads most of the time.  They tend to be lighter and healthier, and honestly?  I just really love vinegar.  I love the acidity and bite.  I'm originally from Maryland after all, home of Boardwalk Fries which are served only with salt and malt vinegar, hon.

A traditional vinaigrette is three parts oil and one part acid, most commonly lemon juice or vinegar.  To this you can add just about anything: garlic, shallots, mustard, herbs, peppers, honey, etc. etc.   Since I'm such a vinegar lover, my ratio is usually closer to 2 parts oil, 1 vinegar.  But if you want a lower acid vinaigrette you can do 4 to 1 too.  You can make it to suit any taste, that's what makes it great!

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Balsamic vinaigrette is super popular and super pricey in the grocery store.  To whip some up in no time in your own kitchen pour the vinegar into a bowl and while whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil at a steady slow stream.   Season with salt and pepper.  Now taste it!  If you want it more acidic, add some more vinegar!  If it has too much bite, add some more oil!  You may even want to sweeten it with a bit of sugar.  Make sure to whisk it fast and to make it right before you use it because, well you know, oil and water don't mix.  It can and will separate.  If it does, shake it up or whisk it again before serving.

Tomorrow I'll share a recipe for a Greek Couscous Salad that uses a lemon vinaigrette; come back and check it out!

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