Vinaigrettes are used primarily in salads, on vegetables, and as both marinades and sauces on meats. While some cooks struggle to make good vinaigrettes that “hold up”, they are easy to make, provided you use proper technique. Keeping in mind that oil and vinegar generally do not mix, we can take certain steps that help override that concept. Once you master the basic technique, you can start experimenting with different ingredients, vinegars and oils and such.
No doubt you’ve had the experience of shaking up a bottle of salad dressing and the two parts come together. Set the bottle down, and in seconds they start to separate again until all the oil is at the top and all the vinegar is at the bottom. That’s because oil and vinegar don’t mix. The best we can do is encourage them to come together for a little while, which they will grudgingly do, provided we shake, stir or otherwise mix them up really well.
Flavors and types of specialty vinegar, like balsamic, sherry or raspberry, are as varied and diverse as can be. Cider vinegar is made from apples and is a good choice for fruity vinaigrettes. Balsamic vinegar, sweet, dark, and aged in specially treated wooden casks, is one of the most sublime vinegar you can find, which we have in abundance at Tastealotta. Another interesting choice, especially for Asian-flavored vinaigrettes, is rice vinegar, which is made from fermented rice.
The most important step in making delicious vinaigrette is to start off with the highest quality ingredients you can find. Affordability shouldn’t be an issue, as the actual cost of a cup of the best quality, best tasting vinaigrette is pennies per serving more than one made with inferior, sometimes bad tasting ingredients.
Select some base ingredients for flavor. You can use shallots, but you can use onion and or garlic. Herbs, finely minced can be used as well to create a flavor base. About ¼ cup per 1 cup of combined vinegar and oil. An easy rule of thumb. The flavor base amount is the same as the amount of vinegar used in a standard recipe. Starting with one of our Tastealotta flavored vinegars makes the process of vinaigrette simple and easy.
A nice component to add to vinaigrettes is lemon juice. It’s usually used to complement and enhance the vinegar, rather than replacing it altogether. However, a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice drizzled over a fresh summer salad is hard to beat.
In fact, you can use all kinds of juices in vinaigrettes, though citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, and orange juice are used most commonly because of their high acid content. Orange juice adds sweetness in addition to tartness. Each citrus fruit has its own unique flavor profile, but the overall vinaigrette formula is the same.
Simple vinaigrettes don’t need more seasoning than a bit of Kosher salt and ground white pepper. Minced garlic, onion, shallot, and herbs are great to add to the mix, along with spices such as black pepper, celery seed, paprika, and so on. Other ingredients, such as mustard or Worcestershire sauce, are sometimes used as well.
Honey happens to be a great addition to a vinaigrette, as it adds sweetness, which is nice to counterbalance the tartness from your vinegar or citrus. It also helps stabilize the emulsion. A vinaigrette with honey in it will remain emulsified for a long time, certainly longer than it takes to eat a salad.
Vinaigrettes are one of a foodie’s basic kitchen and cooking elements. Once you’ve found your perfect method of creating your own vinaigrette, you’ll impress friends and family alike by adding rich flavor to nearly any meal.
Come visit us at Tastealotta and experience balsamic vinegars at their finest. We have an incredible selection to tempt your palate while inspiring your next cooking adventure.