Tuesday, June 15, 2010

3 to 1 - The Basic Rule of Vinaigrettes

A vinaigrette by definition is an oil and vinegar emulsion. Generally speaking the proportions are 3 to 1, oil to vinegar. The rest is up to you and what you have on hand.
Generally I use olive oil for or grapeseed depending whether I want the olive oil flavour or not. Walnut, hazelnut or other fancy nut oils can add subtle but lovely toastiness to your salad.

Vinegars come in all flavours and intensities but in the end they all work. For a light conservative vinaigrette, use apple cider, red or white wine, or malt vinegars. Fancy things up a bit with balsamic (white or black), sherry, or raspberry vinegars.
Mustard, either powder or jarred, have emulsifying properties so always add a touch of mustard to keep the mixture from separating. Wet mustard tends to affect the flavour more so if you don't want the taste of mustard to come through, add a bit of mustard powder to hold your emulsion.

A touch of sweetness balances all the flavours and softens both the saltiness and acidity so you may add maple syrup, brown sugar or anything sweet you may have kicking around (jams, marmalades and jellies add interesting nuances). If using powder (crystal) sugar, remember to add it to the vinegar before the oil to give it a chance to dissolve.
If you want to make dressing for the week, use dry aromatic ingredients (garlic powder) instead of fresh (fresh garlic) to avoid spoilage. But if you're just whipping up a batch for 1 salad, use fresh ingredients!
If you are looking for an Asian flair use rice wine vinegar and make 1 out of the 3 oil portions sesame oil, and add fresh grated ginger.

I may have lost you by now so I'll re-cap the basic formula so you can go eat salad now.
1) 3 to 1, Oil to vinegar ratio for base
2) Mustard to bind
3) Sugar to balance
4) Flavours (garlic, pepper, onion, etc...)
5) Salt to taste

Tip: to make a creamy dressing, make a half/half mixture with your vinaigrette and mayonnaise or sour cream.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this! I tend to add some if not all of these ingredients when I make vinaigrette from scratch, but I was doing it pretty blindly. Now I know what's essential!