Bethany and I are gearing up for this month’s Cancer Support Community cooking demo topic: Flavoring your World with Homemade Vinaigrettes. I get really excited about this topic, but I have gotten the same question from several people - “Why make your own?” My response is…
Have you ever looked at the ingredient statement on the bottle of your favorite salad dressing? How many ingredients are listed that you can’t pronounce? Bottled dressings tend to contain low quality cheap ingredients, lots of preservatives, are high in sodium and have unhealthy fats. This means that there are not a lot of health benefits in that bottle. Making your own dressing will allow you to control the types of ingredients and you’ll end up with something that is healthier and tastes fresher. Plus, vinaigrettes are very easy and quick to make!
How easy and quick? Well, you only need oil and vinegar for the simplest vinaigrette. That’s all! If you’re the type of person that likes to know the measurements – a basic guideline is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar or acid (the acid is usually from lemons, limes or other citrus). This guideline is not a hard rule that always has to be followed. Experiment with it! If you want more vinegar flavor and want to reduce the fat in the recipe you can certainly increase the amount of vinegar used – try equal parts vinegar and oil. Make sure that you choose oils with healthy fats, like olive oil or walnut oil. You can enhance this basic ratio with different flavors. Try aromatics such as shallots, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus zest or ginger. Or add sweetness with honey, maple syrup, apple juice, frozen orange juice concentrate or even fruit preserves. The options are endless and once you get comfortable with it, the world of possibilities will really open up!
Vinaigrettes can be used to flavor raw vegetable salads, cooked vegetables, legumes (like lentils), bean salads, and grain salads. They can also be used as a marinade – try them with fish, chicken or lean cuts of beef. Just shake the ingredients in a jar with a lid and use it immediately or save some in the refrigerator to use later. They will keep for several days.
Try the Mustard Vinaigrette listed below this Labor Day weekend. It has a very robust flavor and is awesome tossed with steamed potatoes, cooked lentils, or steamed green beans topped with walnuts.
Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup
Ingredients: 2 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup shallots or onions, minced; 1 garlic clove, minced; 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard; 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil; freshly ground black pepper; 1/8 tsp kosher salt; 2 Tbsp chives, minced; 1 Tbsp parsley, minced
Instructions: Combine vinegar, shallots, garlic and salt. Vigorously whisk in the mustard, and oil until thick and smooth. Grind in a little pepper and stir in the herbs.
Want to learn more?
Check out this basic guide to vinaigrettes from Cooking Light Magazine.
Want to hire Good Measure Meals to do a cooking demo? Let us know!