Sunday, January 29, 2012

Basic Techniques Series Lesson 2: Vinaigrettes (Part 1 of 2)

(imported and edited post from "A Chef in Med School" 9/10/2009)

Vinaigrettes (Part 1 of 2): Making Hearty, Deli-style Salads - Potluck fare or a quick meal on-the-go

This is Part 1 of 2 of the Basic Technique Series Lesson 2: Vinaigrettes. This cooking demonstration shows how to make one of the simplest sauces found in most American kitchens - the Vinaigrette (aka. oil and vinegar-based salad dressing and marinades). Homemade vinaigrettes take only moments to prepare and have MANY advantages over their store-bought counterparts. They are better tasting, less expensive, generally use better quality ingredients, and come in flavors limited only by your imagination.  See the "Vinaigrettes Part 2" video to see a demonstration of how to use the vinaigrette made in "Part 1" to create "Southwestern Vegetable & Brown Rice Salad with Lime Garlic Vinaigrette." The recipes and detailed written instructions are posted below.


Vinaigrettes are very simple to make and taste much better than the salad dressings and marinades that you can buy in the store.  Those that include fresh ingredients such as garlic, onion, herbs or freshly squeezed fruit juice will keep several days in the refrigerator, whereas those with only oil, vinegar, prepared condiments and/or dried herbs and spices can keep for weeks. 

Basic Vinaigrette

Basic vinaigrette is made by whisking a slow stream of oil into the acidic ingredient, tasting and adjusting for acidity, and seasoning with a small amount of salt and pepper. 

1 part acidic ingredient (any vinegar; sour citrus juice like lemon, lime or grapefruit; or a mixture)
2-3 parts oil of choice (olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, vegetable, or grape seed, untoasted/plain
Sesame, or peanut; hazelnut*, walnut*, sweet almond, or other nut oil.
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper (only a few turns from a mill)

Directions (for ¾ - 1 cup Basic Vinaigrette):                 
1. Measure ¼ cup vinegar into a medium mixing bowl; whisk ½ cup oil into the vinegar by drizzling the oil in a slow stream and whipping constantly with the whisk.

2. Adjust acidity: take a small taste of the unseasoned vinaigrette; it should be quite tangy, but not so sour that it makes you pucker.  If it is too sour, whisk in a bit more oil and re-taste.  If it is not sour enough, add a bit more of the acidic ingredient(s).

3. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Yield: ¾ - 1 cup (about 8 servings)

Store: in a jar with a lid or a clean re-used dressing bottle in the refrigerator.  If made from only vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, this keeps for months.  If fresh ingredients are used, such as fruit juice, garlic or herbs, the dressing should be used within 3-7 days. Note: the oil may solidify in the refrigerator because of the cool temperature – the dressing is still perfectly good.  Just remove the dressing from the refrigerator a few minutes before using or run some warm water over the outside of the bottle to melt the oil. 

Flavored Vinaigrettes

Use the Basic Vinaigrette recipe but vary it to your liking by choosing different oils and vinegars, but also by adding other ingredients such as those listed in the table below.  If using onions or garlic, add them directly to the acidic ingredient and let them macerate for at least 5 minutes before whisking in the oil; this allows the acid to pickle and mellow them a bit to create a more rounded flavor in the vinaigrette.

*Note: *starred oils in the ingredient list, above, are very strongly flavored and expensive (they are also called "Flavoring Oils" as opposed to "Main Oils" in the chart below). For these reasons they should be used only as a small proportion of the total oil used in the recipe.  Pairing them with a plain-tasting oil, such as canola, works well.

Main Oils
Vinegars/Acidic Ingredients
Olive, any style
Rice Vinegar
Garlic, ground dried or minced/grated fresh
Canola Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Ginger, ground dried or grated fresh
Vegetable Oil
Balsamic Vinegar, white or dark
Basil, chopped dried or fresh leaves
Safflower Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Parsley, chopped dried or fresh leaves
Sunflower Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Cilantro, chopped dried or fresh
Sesame, untoasted
Lemon, Lime or other Citrus juice
Rosemary, chopped dried or fresh leaves, or dried ground
Flaxseed Oil
White Vinegar
Thyme, chopped dried or fresh leaves, or dried ground
Grapeseed Oil
Champagne Vinegar
Curry, ground powder, any style

Sherry Vinegar
Paprika/Other ground peppers

Cumin, dried ground or dried whole that is toasted then ground

Coriander, dried ground or dried whole that is toasted then ground

Clove, ground dried
*Flavoring Oils

Cinnamon, ground dried or grated stick
*Walnut Oil

Nutmeg, ground dried or grated from whole
*Hazelnut Oil

Mint, chopped dried or fresh leaves, or dried ground
*Other Nut Oil

Dijon Mustard, Other Mustard
*Toasted Sesame Oil

5-Spice, Herbes de Provence or any other ground seasoning mixture of your choice

Example flavored vinaigrette prepared in the video, above, and used for salad in "Vinaigrettes, Part 2

Lime Garlic Vinaigrette

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (*zest one of the limes before juicing if you wish to add chopped zest for extra lime flavor)
1-2 clove(s) garlic, finely minced or grated or ½ teaspoon minced garlic (the type sold in a jar pre-minced)
½-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix garlic (and lime zest, if using) into the lime juice and let it sit for at least five minutes, then whisk in the oil in a slow stream.
2. Taste and adjust acidity: the final vinaigrette should have a tangy flavor, but not be so sour as to cause puckering when you taste it.  If it is too sour, add a bit more oil; if it is not sour enough, add another tablespoon of lime juice.

Makes: about 1 cup (8 servings)

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