The Perfect Vinaigrette and Five things you Should Know!
Whether you’re packing your lunch for the workday or whipping up something quick for dinner, a salad can be a staple dish you can create in many different ways. With a base of lettuce leaves or other greens, you can slice or chop up almost any kind of veggie and create a salad based on any type of cuisine.
With a variety of salads also comes a variety in the dressing you put on that salad as a finishing touch. The dressing is important. It’s the flavor that blends all the ingredients together in one harmonious bite.
When you look to buy some salad dressings in the store, you might just be overwhelmed by the plethora of prepacked options like ranch, French, Italian, poppy seed and many more. Often, these bottles are filled with preservatives, grams of fat and lots of sugar.
If you’re wanting a salad to be a healthy meal option, know you don’t need to settle for those store-bought dressings for your fresh salad.
The vinaigrette is a salad dressing made of two main ingredients that instantly amps up the flavor of your salad. With just extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and a balsamic vinegar, you can transform that bowl of veggies into a savory dish. And when you make a vinaigrette yourself, you’re in charge of the flavor.
Making your own vinaigrette opens up new opportunities to try new flavor combinations and get the exact taste you want to pair with your salads (and other dishes, as well!) Here, we share five tips that you should know to make your perfect vinaigrette.
- Make Up Your Own Formula
A vinaigrette is made of two basic ingredients - olive oil and balsamic. But how much of each do you include?
The typical ratio for a vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part balsamic. At Olea Oliva! we suggest you start out with a 2:1 ratio of extra virgin olive oil to balsamic and then adjust each ingredient based on your tastes. Once you have that down, you can basically create any type of vinaigrette you want.
However, while this is the typical ratio, that doesn’t mean you need to follow those proportions exactly. By making your own, and not buying from the store, you can change up the ratio of EVOO to balsamic in any way you choose.
If you like having your dressing thicker and a smoother texture, you might include more oil in your vinaigrette. But, if you want your dressing to have a stronger bite, more acidic and popping with flavor, you might want to increase that ratio. Change it up, try new combinations out and find which vinaigrette formula tastes best to you.
- Emulsify Before Using
You may be wondering how a vinaigrette is possible when both ingredients physically won’t mix. A vinaigrette doesn’t stay a unified whole for long, but when shaken and stirred, the oil and vinegar create a temporary emulsion.
An emulsion is when you mix two things together that don’t normally mix, i.e. vinegar and oil. Usually when making this kind of emulsion, a blender works really well. Whisking the oil and vinegar vigorously also emulsifies the two ingredients as well. Even putting it in a mason jar and shaking it well is an easy way to mix it up.
If you make the vinaigrette before you plan on using it on your salad, be sure to give it a shake or stir before adding it in, as the oil and vinegar will separate over time.
- Amp Up the Flavor
Sure, the EVOO and balsamic vinegar are the two most important ingredients in a vinaigrette, but they don’t need to be the only ingredients.
Whether it’s just a dash of herbal salt or really amping up the flavor with crushed red pepper flakes or minced garlic, adding in a few extra ingredients can cause an explosion of flavor.
Honey can also be a great addition to your vinaigrette. Not only does it add a great level of sweetness to your salad topping, but it also helps the oil and vinegar to stay together longer.
Mustard and honey make a great combination for a honey mustard dressing perfect for any occasion. Try adding some mayo as an emulsifier to keep the vinaigrette a smooth dressing.
Try some new combinations of flavors with changing up a few ingredients here and there, or adding in something you’d never have thought of to put in a salad dressing.
- Adjust as You Go
Not every vinaigrette tastes the same with the same ingredients. The salad or dish you are putting your vinaigrette on greatly influences the overall flavor combination.
For example, in a salad with more bitter greens like arugula may need more olive oil in the vinaigrette to balance out that bitterness. If your salad is sweeter and is topped with a lot of fruit, you may want to add more balsamic to the vinaigrette.
With the simplicity of ingredients, vinaigrettes make it easy to be creative and adjust the ratios as you go.
- Stay Healthy With Homemade
Pick up a bottle in the grocery store of salad dressing and you’ll find ingredients in it such as high fructose corn syrup, very high levels of salt, xanthan gum, corn starch, sodium benzonate and a lot of added sugars.
Also, Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, are often found in store-bought dressings. Such ingredients can cause a host of health concerns.
When you make your own using two, simple yet abundantly flavorful ingredients, you can eliminate all those questionable chemicals and ingredients you don’t want to ingest. You’ll avoid added sugars,
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar are the only things you need to take your salad from boring to amazing.
Celebrate winter with Your Vinaigrette Combinations
The possibilities are endless when you choose to make your own healthy, flavorful and easy vinaigrette. All you need is some EVOO and balsamic vinegar and you’re well on your way toward savoring your salad.
You can even match your vinaigrette to the season you’re celebrating. For example great combinations to savor the flavors of winter include pairings such Cranberry Orange Balsamic and Lemon Pepper Olive Oil. Try our Green Apple Balsamic and combine it with Basil Olive Oil for a fresh and festive flavor. Or, for a savory vinaigrette, combine our Chile Pepper Balsamic with our Garlic Oil.
With so many options, you can easily find a flavor pairing you can’t get enough of. Celebrate the seasons with making your own vinaigrette.