How To Make a Perfect Vinaigrette
Making a great salad starts with the best vinaigrette. I have been able to make even the saddest looking greens taste amazing with a perfectly balance vinaigrette. Sometimes there is a place and time for dressings like ranch or blue cheese but everyday salads need a fantastic vinaigrette. Not to mention your own vinaigrette is cheaper, no crazy preservatives, and you can make it exactly how you like it to taste.
Learning to master a few steps and avoid mistake will have you licking greens out of the bowl in no time. Vinaigrette ratio’s are one of those ratios that just stay the same, with small variations based on your taste. If you eyeball this one at first, you will end up with a pucker up vinaigrette, or way too oily and trying to add more acid to balance out the flavors. You will waste your time and ingredients trying to get it right, and not to mention frustrated!
Learn the Standard Ratio 3:1 – Oil:Vinegar
Very small amount, for one salad: 3 tablespoons oil: 1 tablespoon vinegar. To fill a mason jar: 3 cups oil: 1 cup vinegar
Type of oils:
Let’s talk about oil. Oil can be based on your preference and the best way to figure out what you like is to try it. I think a dressing made entirely with olive oil can be too strong and I like to dilute it with a small amount canola oil. You could also use a combination of nut oils, like walnut or almond, with another oil. Both walnut and almond oil are expensive and very strong flavors, so using it with another oil is perfect. Another great option is grape-seed oil.
Use the right vinegar/stay away from fake vinegars:
As far as vinegar, use what you like or what complements your recipe. I like red wine vinegar, distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, and rice wine vinegar (probably my favorite), champagne. If you are using balsamic vinegar, you might want to combine it with another vinegar to mellow the flavor You can also use another acid like lemon juice, or lime juice. However with certain citrus like orange, lime, or grapefruit you might to need to use another vinegar with it; it is just not acidic enough. Remember you can also zest the peel for wonderful flavor as well. Stay away from fruit flavored vinaigrette like “raspberry-blueberry honey balsamic”, they have a fake taste and could overpower your vinaigrette.
Want it creamy, us an emulsifier: In plain terms an emulsifier acts like glue between the oil and vinegar. Great emulsifiers like mustard and grated garlic combine the oil and vinegar together, in a classic vinaigrette. However it is not necessary, and you can make a suspended vinaigrette, those that you see that separate.
Sweeten up a little: With fat, salt, and acidity your dressing is craving some sweetness. It is not a dessert so it does not need much. Use your sweetener of choice, sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave. Using a jam or preserve is a nice way to flavor as well. You will just need to use a blender to make.
Taste and Balance: Don’t dress your salad blind. Dip one of leaves in the vinaigrette and give it a try. How does it taste, too oily? too sharp? too much like vinegar? In cooking, nothing is ever perfect, and everyones tastes are different. This is one think that I believe all cooks need to do. You can rescue the worst meals if you can just taste something and understand what you can add to change the flavor profile. General rule: If too acidic (too much vinegar flavor) add oil, too oily add vinegar. Try a test with salting. Add a pinch more and see if it taste better. Even using a little heavy cream with reduce the acidity and is a really nice change of pace.
Freshen up: Immediately before serving you can add fresh herbs like parsley, basil, chives, dills.
Make a big batch: Yes you can make a vinaigrette in a second. But by making a big batch storing in a glass mason jar you can just reach in your fridge, pull it out while you are getting the ingredients ready, let it come to room temperature, give it a good shake and dress your salad. No excuses now to eat your salad and stop buying chemical laden/crazy ingredients/bad tasting dressing! Feel free to use your blender as well.
Start with this recipe first, understand the standard ratio and then only your ingredients will limit your flavors.
Raspberry balsamic (just use a few tablespoons of raspberry jam)
Shallot red wine
Asian Vinaigrette with rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, grated garlic or ginger
Orange Basil: Juice and zest from an orange, white vinegar, pinch sugar, oil, basil
Be creative, stick to the standard ratio, adjust as necessary and you can’t go wrong!
Serves: 1/2 cup
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil/canola blend
pinch of sugar
Pour in a small bowl 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Add dijon and a pinch of salt an
pepper. Using fork or whisk, combine together. Slowly beat in 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive
oil until emulsified. Taste as you go and and when it tastes right to you