Look what we had for dinner last night! The first BBQ dinner outside on the patio deserved a special treat. A salad of home grown lettuce and spicy mesclun mix with a vinaigrette was perfect.
|Gently picking the outer leaves off the little lettuce plants.|
|Aerial view of the spicy mesclun mix - after picking a few leaves for the salad.|
Tid Bits I've Learned about Vinaigrettes
- Stick to a 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar ratio. No matter what type of oil, what type of vinegar or what other ingredients you add, this ratio is the magic formula for great vinaigrettes.
- Try mixing different oils with different vinegars.
- Don't get stuck on using only Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sure it's good but why not try canola oil, flax oil, hemp oil, walnut oil, etc. In fact, try mixing a couple of different varieties together. For example in the salad above I mixed canola oil with hemp oil.
- Try using different flavours of vinegar. In our cupboard right now we have red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and white vinegar. I choose the type of vinegar based the final flavour I'm looking for and on the colour. For example a nice balsamic vinegar gives a nice sweetness to a spinach and strawberry salad, but that dark colour might not work for a salad with cauliflower or other whites.
- Use a little lemon juice, lime juice or orange juice to substitute for part of the vinegar.
- Keeping the oil and vinegar from separating is tricky - the two really don't like each other. Keep whisking, blending or shaking until the very last moment before serving. Adding a little mustard or honey will also help keep the emulsion from separating too quickly.
- Honey adds a little sweetness, cuts the acid from the vinegar and helps keep the oil and vinegar emulsion together a little longer.
- Add fresh or dried herbs like thyme, oregano, parsely, chives, cilantro, basil, etc. to your vinaigrette for even more variety. Some crushed garlic is also a nice addition in hearty salads.
- For sweet vinaigrettes I like adding a bit of homemade jams or jellies. I like the flavour and colour it provides, especially in a salad with fruit.
- A little salt and freshly ground pepper are part of every vinaigrette I make.
- The best way to test your vinaigrette is by dipping a piece of lettuce in your mix, rather than tasting it straight off a spoon.
So, no recipe for you! Go ahead and experiment. If it doesn't work, you can always try again tomorrow, cause you know your going to be eating a lot of lettuce in the next month or so!