Vinaigrette

4 Jan

saladWe just had a salad with a lovely maple vinaigrette dressing, so this post is about salad dressing. But I thought I’d start with some comments about a simple, green tossed salad.

First of all, use really fresh greens — either Romaine or Bibb lettuce, baby spinach, or mixed greens Aldi sells a package of four “Artisan Lettuces”  for a very reasonable price. Westborn Market has a very nice mix of spring greens packaged in a plastic domed bowl. Stay away from iceberg; it’s soooo boring, and it has less taste and less nutritional value than the darker green and red lettuces.

  • If the greens need to be washed, be sure to dry them thoroughly; it’s worth investing in a salad spinner.
  • I like to use grape or cherry tomatoes, rather than larger tomatoes cut up. I prefer Persian or Armenian cucumbers; they’re smaller, crunchier and sweeter. If those are unavailable, I’ll buy an English seedless cuke, but they’re so big we have trouble using it up before it goes bad. I don’t like green peppers so I use red, yellow or orange peppers instead.
  • To those basics, I like to add some sort of nut: walnuts, pecans, sliced or slivered almonds, pine nuts or sunflower seeds. They’re better toasted. You can toast a large quantity at one time (put them in a single layer in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes) and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
  • I also like to add some sort of fruit: dried cranberries or cherries, or a sliced or cubed tart apple or crunchy pear, or orange or grapefuit segments
  • A small amount of cheese is also good on a salad: feta, bleu or shredded cheddar.

I can’t understand why anyone uses bottled dressing when it’s so easy, and so much less expensive, to make your own — and the result is so much tastier and better for you!

Start with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. I use red wine vinegar most of the time, but for variety I occasionally use balsamic, cider or raspberry vinegar. I usually have several kinds of vinaigrette made up at any given time. They don’t spoil, even after several months! Here are two of my favorites. Quantities of the seasonings can be adjusted to your taste.

Classic Vinaigrette

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey or sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
To taste (¼ to ½ tsp. each): garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, dried chives

Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Shake before every use.

Maple Vinaigrette

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. grated orange peel
½ tsp. dried tarragon

Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Shake before every use.

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One Response to “Vinaigrette”

  1. Lois January 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I’ve been eating Bobbie’s food for over 30 years. Believe me — an invitation to her home is the best dining you could want! What a treat to know that she is now sharing her recipes. I’m tying on my apron right now!

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