Let us consider the vinaigrette for a moment. Many of our thoughts immediately shifted to salads and then thought "What else would I think of, Alex?" I am here to let you in on a little secret -- there is a multitude of ways to use this simple dressing as a way to add another layer to a recipe.
Some other vehicles that can be livened up by a simple vinaigrette:
- Drizzle over grilled or roasted vegetables
- Transform simple chopped up fruit into an epic dessert or noteworthy salad
- Top a humble protein
- Elevate the flavor of a pizza
- Dress your greens before you tuck them inside a burger or sandwich
- Top various appetizers (canapes, bruschetta) for what some would consider a totally new appetizer
- Throw everything you have in your fridge into a grain bowl where the dressing is the only thing that makes it different from the exact same dinner yesterday
- Craft a marinade for meats, fish, cheese or vegetarian proteins
- Turn room temperature grains into show-stopping sides
- Soaked into a thick bread for a stunning sandwich condiment
Now that you are intrigued, let's go beyond the basic combination of balsamic and EVOO...
THE ONLY VINAIGRETTE FORMULA YOU NEED
- 3 Parts Oil :: 1 Part Vinegar
- Salt + Pepper
- Shake or Whisk with a fork or, better yet, blend!
The formula above will give you a basic vinaigrette. One you are going to want to eat immediately so that it doesn't break and leave you with many oily bites and a few vinegar-laden bites. If you are hoping to fix this problem you need to add an Emulsifier. Adding in even a tiny bit before you shake will suspend the vinegar in the oil and keep your mixture together. Check out some emulsifier ideas below!
How much Emulsifier?
1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup. This is just enough to help bind the dressing. If you are wanting a "Creamy Dressing" you are going to need to pump up that emulsifier.
*Let's note, however, that some vinegars are stronger than others. Always taste after your initial mixing to adjust to your personal preference.
Tasting Tip -- Dip a bit of the lettuce, roasted veggie, protein in the mix. This will give you a better sense of the overall dish than just licking it off the fork. With that being said, licking if off the fork is a way better option than not tasting it at all.
Balsamic, Red Wine, White Wine, Apple Cider, Rice Vinegar
Dijon Mustard is the most basic emulsifier. With that being said, there are many other options -- Miso, Yogurt, Nut Butters, Tahini, Mayo, Avocado, Anchovies, Olives, Nuts, Seeds, Bacon Fat, Silken Tofu, Grated Garlic, Raw Egg yolk OR yolk of a hard-boiled egg
YOU'VE GOT THE BASICS. LET'S GET CREATIVE.
Pick a Direction::
- Creamy -- More Emulsifier/Fats
- "Fresh/Bright" -- More Herbs/produce
- Sweet -- Sweeter ingredients overall
- Spicy -- Throw in a bit of heat
Citrus - Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange, Blood Orange, Pomegranate
**BLEND whole but peeled citrus into the dressing to thicken the dressing
For a lighter, thinner dressing juice the citrus before blending or mixing
**Generally, the citrus is added to enhance the vinegar. However, I have made many a vinaigrette where the lemon/lime is a complete substitute. Shh. Don't tell anyone I'm breaking the rules.
Fresh Herbs -- Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Chives, Tarragon
More Aromatics - Ginger, Capers, Shallots
Add some Spices -- Tumeric, Curry Powder, Chili Powder, Paprika, Sumac, Chili Flakes
A Touch of Sweet -- Honey, White sugar, Brown sugar, Agave, Maple syrup, Fruit preserves
Hide some Extra Fruits -- Cherries, Berries, Mango, Apples, Tomatoes (Don't forget about Frozen produce too)
A lil bit of Spice - Red Chili Flakes, Sambal Oelek, Sriracha, Cayenne, Jalapeno
How Long Will It Last?
A basic vinaigrette with shelf-stable ingredients will last weeks in an airtight container in the fridge. If you have added in dairy, fresh produce, herbs (anything that will turn) I suggest eating within 2-4 days.
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