Easy Tips For Homemade Vinaigrette

Making your own vinaigrette will add fresh, delicious flavor to salad.
Making your own vinaigrette will add fresh, delicious flavor to salad.

If you regularly buy salad dressing that’s full of preservatives and additives at the grocery store, it’s time you discovered just how quick and easy it is to whisk up your own fresh and delicious vinaigrette. At its most basic, vinaigrette is a dressing or marinade consisting of oil and vinegar, but there is plenty of room to try out different variations. Read on for some tips on how you can craft a delicious topping to complement your next salad.

Choosing your ingredients
The only ingredients you need to make a basic vinaigrette are oil, vinegar and salt. That means the kinds of oil and vinegar you choose matter. Extra-virgin olive oil works well, but you should avoid refined olive oils. The Kitchn explains extra virgin is distinguished from poorer quality olive oil by its lower acidity and strong olive flavor.

Of course, there are many other kinds of oil you can try in your vinaigrette if you like. Bon Appetit advises mixing strongly flavored oils, like walnut, with neutral ones, like vegetable oil. On the other hand, it warns against purchasing flavored vinegars, which will likely interfere with the tastes of your own ingredients.

Finding the right proportions
The proportions of fat and acid will make a huge difference in your results: Traditional recipes call for 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. However, you can alter that ratio to your own tastes. If you like a more acidic dressing, try two parts oil to one part vinegar or equal parts oil and vinegar.

How To Liven Up Your SaladAchieving emulsion
Emulsion is what happens when you mix together two things that resist mixing on a chemical level. You get around their natural tendency to separate by dispersing them into small enough droplets. For your vinaigrette, you will accomplish this by whisking the oil and vinegar together in a bowl. Throw in some salt and pepper to taste, and you have a basic vinaigrette. Many cooks advise first pouring out the vinegar and then very slowly adding the oil, whisking as it drips in.

If you prefer, you may also use an emulsifier, an additional ingredient meant to stabilize the mixture. This will prevent the oil and vinegar from separating and produce a creamier dressing. Mustard, especially Dijon mustard, is a common and delicious emulsifier for vinaigrettes. Egg yolk is often used as well, and you can even combine the two for extra creaminess, as in a recipe from Ina Garten. Mayonnaise, honey or a vegetable puree will also work, so feel free to experiment with different emulsifiers.

When you have emulsified and seasoned your vinaigrette, it’s ready to be added to your salad. You can also store it in a glass jar and refrigerate it for later use. When you want it, allow the vinaigrette to come to room temperature and shake the jar to mix the ingredients.

Exploring variations
As is likely clear by now, the possibilities for variations on the basic vinaigrette are endless. If you wish to experiment with your acid, try using balsamic vinegar, or leave out vinegar entirely and substitute lemon juice if you are after a citrus taste. You might also try including garlic in your mixture. Along with oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and red pepper, it will result in an Italian dressing. Mix the garlic with a creamy emulsifier like mayonnaise and black pepper instead, and you’ll have a creamy garlic dressing.Even if you’re feeling less ambitious, mixing in fresh herbs such as chive, tarragon or parsley after you prepare the emulsion is a simple way to add intriguing flavors to any vinaigrette.

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