I’ve been often asked, . . . sometimes asked, . . . somebody asked me
once if there is a simple and quickly made salad dressing that is versatile
enough to replace all the half empty salad dressing bottles in the fridge.
Well, an oil and vinegar combination will do it.
The hardest thing about vinaigrette is the spelling. Again, blame
the French. Vinaigrette is a take off of vin aigre or “sharp
The proportions for vinaigrette are three parts oil and one part vinegar.
Go with that. The preparation is simple, just put vinegar, some seasoning
and oil together, shake or whisk it like mad and its ready to dress dry
salad leaves. (Leaves wet with water will repel the dressing.) It
is not necessary to drizzle in the oil as with hollandaise or mayonnaise.
What about seasonings? Well, first of all, adding a flavoring
liquid that is less slick and smooth than oil and vinegar encourages the
two to combine and stay combined. Substitute ‘emulsifier’ for less
slick and smooth, and ‘emulsify’ for combine and we enter the world of
emulsion sauces. Both McGee and Corriher
whisk endlessly on this subject. We need only recognize the need
for an emulsifier in our vinaigrette, identify a few and press on.
The best emulsifier is mustard, but vegetable purees, such as tomato, bell
pepper or garlic work as well. So too, of course, does egg yolk,
but then we are into light mayonnaise. So here we have the basic
vinaigrette recipe for two:
Yield: 2 servings
See Abbreviations, if needed
· 1t red wine vinegar
· ½ t Dijon-type mustard
· S/P to taste
· 1T olive oil (3 parts)
1. In a shallow stainless steel or glass bowl, add vinegar, mustard,
salt and pepper
2. Whisk briskly with a fork, (use a whisk or a stick blender
for large quantities)
3. Add the oil and whisk again
4. Add additions (2t of cheese for example)
5. Adjust seasoning and set aside
Additions: Got to have cheese! Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
heads the list, followed by crumbled Roquefort, feta or goat cheese—all
whisked smoothly into the final dressing (toss more cheese into the salad
greens, if you like).
· Stay with Dijon-type mustards. You
can experiment with the other aforementioned emulsifiers if using the vinaigrette
on cold cuts, tuna salad and the like
· Substitute balsamic vinegar or seasoned
rice vinegar for the red wine vinegar. Both of these vinegars are sweet.
I often use seasoned rice vinegar and always use a splash of cheap balsamic
vinegar for taste and color. (Never use distilled vinegar.)
o (Tip: Seasoned
rice vinegar works great alone as a quick low calorie salad dressing.)
· Substitute peanut oil for extra virgin olive
oil, if you must for some reason. Infused oils, can also be used
but their subtle flavors will get lost in the mustard and cheese.
Adjust, adjust, adjust . . .