V-I-N-A-I-G-R-E-T-T-E. Not Vinegar-ette. It’s not a little girl with a biting tongue. This is the glory that can make your salad, meat, sammy, whatever, absolutely divine. Easy peasy, again. Not like I ever give y’all hard tasks! There are a few key pointers that can pave the way to a vibrant vinaigrette, each and every time. The above pic was from a quick lunch I whipped up for my homey, Maggie. It was a Pea Shoot and Yellow Peach Salad tossed w/ Whole Grain Mustard Honey Vinaigrette and a German Pink Heirloom Tomato and Gruyere Grilled Cheese on Olive Country Bread. Ridick.
I would recommend a lighter oil, like veggie, soybean, or light olive oil. Unless you are going for a very bold olive oil flavor, avoid Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)–you may get a bitter emulsion, depending on the brand. There are so many types of oils–experiment. Walnut and grapeseed oils are nice. Flax oil, although good for you, tastes like crap.
Again, there are so many! I use balsamic, apple cider and rice wine, mostly (not at the same time). Balsamic is sweet, dark and rich while apple cider is stronger and rice wine is the least potent of them all. Consider the rest of the flavors you will be using for your mixture. If you are throwing in a lot of garlic or shallot or blue cheese, use a weaker vinegar. You don’t want your flavors competing for attention and even offending the taste buds.
3) The Secret Ratio
It’s 3 to 1 oil to vinegar. Stick to this and you will go far, Grasshoppas. When catering for huge parties, I look at my container and eyeball this ratio each and every time. You may need a little wiggle room, depending on your ingredients, but for the most part, this is pretty spot on.
Oh man. Let your imagination run free. My favorite is definitely the vinaigrette I made for this pea shoot salad above: garlic, shallot, whole grain mustard, honey, lemon, s&p. Use fresh or dry. I almost always go fresh in my vins since they are used so much and don’t last long. Dry ingredients definitely extend the shelf life of your dressings. Try tarragon & chives; blue cheese & shallot; crushed red pepper & coriander. A hint: if you don’t want the garlic, onion, or shallot to play a major role in flavor, just smash the clove and rub the bowl that you’re using with it. This leaves a hint of flavor so that the rest of your seasonings can sing.
I keep lemon or lime juice, or water at hand to round out my list of ingredients. Sometimes, a strong vinaigrette may need to be weakened a bit and a splash here and there of any of these can coax it off the ledge. Try orange or tangerine juice to add some sweetness in addition to the mellowing effect. Pear nectar turns boring into gourmet. No sugar or honey necessary!
I have stopped using white sugar altogether (unless baking, duh). I LOVE agave and honey. Brown sugar works too. Just have them around and throw a dash in when you’re finishing up to take some of the savory heaviness off a bold vinaigrette.
7) To Emulsify or To Not
Some people like their vinaigrettes separated. I like mine to come together into a temporary emulsification so that all the flavors pour out evenly. Otherwise, you get a bite with way more oil here and a vinegary mess there. Don’t let the big word scare you. All it means is the molecules are suspended next to each other. Depending on your ingredients, they will all find their place again in your jar, a layered hierarchy of goodness. A blender will give you this suspension best. Pour the oil into the rest of the ingredients at a drizzle. A mixer will work great, too. If you use a whisk and bowl, you can still achieve this effect. Just be patient and keep the drizzle steady. If you’re lazy or don’t care about the emulsifying, throw all your ingredients in a jar or tupperware, cover, and shake.
I probably make 3 gallons of vinaigrette everyday. It’s so easy. I use a cement immersion mixer that I bought at a hardware store, though. You won’t be making that much at one time. I hope. If you find yourself making dinner for 100 people, just call me.
If any of you New Yorkers are around this weekend, Saturday from 11:30am-2pm, I’ll be at Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope selling some Skimkim Foods in-store! I will have a motley crue of delicious bounty so get your asses over there. I just made Bibimbap with the Incredible Hulk Skimchee: baby turnips, kale, & hijiki! An over-easy egg to top it off…
Note: Check out Maggie’s new project, Telephoned. Album just released, haaaay hooooooe.
- Mama’s Kitchen: Bruschetta & Arugula Salad
- Mama’s Kitchen: Fresh Tomato & Mushroom Sauce and Garden Salad
- Skimkim Yummies: Potayto Potahto
- Skimkim Yummies: Pestos
- Skimkim Yummies: Creamy Tomato Soup