Vital Vinaigrettes

Okay kids. Nothing fancy here, just simple vinaigrette dressings. Dirt simple. 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar, dried herbs ( basil and oregano for example). Mix herbs and vinegar, then slowly add in the oil while beating until it emulsifies.  Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over mixed salad greens and enjoy. Like I said, simple.

Ah, but why stop there? Get closer boys and girls because this is when the fun starts. Oil and vinegar is really just oil and some acidic liquid. Olive oil and Orange juice. Peanut oil and Lime ( great with Thai food). The ratio of oil to acid may change based on the sweetness levels, just experiment as you go. What’s important to remember is to taste as you go. Don’t worry if the vinaigrette breaks ( breaking here means that the emulsion separates back into oil and liquid) at this point. If you have the ratio you like but the vinaigrette keeps breaking, add just a touch of mustard, it helps hold the emulsification without destroying the flavor.

Here’s one to get you started. I came up with this one night when I couldn’t find any good looking raspberries at the market. You will notice that most of my recipes are really more like guidelines. Use them as a base to start from, and have fun with it!

Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette:

Take some nice strawberries, 20 or so, de-stem, then cut in half. Arrange them in a baking dish, and drizzle walnut oil over top. You’ll want to use about a ½ cup of walnut oil. If you want to save money, use ¼ canola and ¼ walnut. Roast the berries at 350 f, until they get nice and soft and the house smells like a scented candle. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. After it’s cooled, place the berries in a food processor and set the oil aside. To the berries add about 1/8th of a cup of rice wine vinegar. You want a very light, almost sweet vinegar. I’ve tried Balsamic, and while the taste is the bomb, the color is way off. Start the processor and once the berries and vinegar are all mixed, start drizzling in the oil. Don’t worry about adding it all, just add it until the vinaigrette emulsifies and gets nice and creamy looking. Taste at this point and add salt if needed. Pour into a jar and place in the fridge until ready to use.

The Salad:

Take some raw walnut halves, dust with cinnamon sugar and roast for about 15 minutes in a 350 oven. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Make a light green salad with whatever greens look fresh in the market. You want light greens though, stay away from bitter radicchio for example. Add into the greens some dried cranberries, diced seedless cukes, and grape tomatoes. Add the dressing, don’t drown things here, and toss. Place a nice pile on a chilled plate, toss some roasted walnuts on top, a crack of fresh pepper, and viola.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Experiment people!! Most of all though, enjoy.


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