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Favorite Vinaigrette Recipes?

I rarely make my own salad dressing (unless I have guests), so my repetoire is weak. Does anyone have a vinaigrette recipe that is a real stand-out?

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  1. I like to make a standard viniagrette (shallots, wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, dijon mustard all mixed then whisked with olive oil) but to add some interest to the salad I toss in gorzonzola or blue cheese crumbles, dried blueberries, and either almonds or pine nuts. Makes a plain salad really standout.

    1. The basic method I follow is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (but you can adjust this based on your own tastes), plus a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. Then mix with a fork to loosely combine. If you want an imulsion, add the oil slowly and whisk vigorously. Or put the ingredients in a jar and shake.

      The better quality ingredients, the better. You can use any kind of vinegar you like (I'd avoid white distilled vinegar). Vinegar keeps forever, so I like to have a bunch of different kinds in the house. I'd start with red wine vinegar, and explore from there.

      (A "part" can be a tablespoon, a 1/4 cup, etc. depending on how much you want to make.)

      Now, on top of that base, you can make a lot of variations. Here are some that I like:

      1. Mince shallots and let them marinate in the vinegar (not the oil) for 15 minutes. Then combine the rest of the ingredients.

      2. Same as 1, but with garlic.

      3. To the base recipe above, add dijon mustard (start with 1 part dijon, the fresher the jar the more spicy it will be. If this is too much mustard for you, start with less).

      4. I don't like fruit vinegrettes that much, but you could add some mashed rasberries, or other fruits, to the base recipe.

      5. One of my favorites is to take a vanilla pod, scrap out the little bits inside, and add those to the base.

      6. Add chopped herbs to the base above. I tend to use just one or two at a time, so as not to overwhelm the vinegrette. Most leafy herbs work well. I'd avoid rosemary, or use just a little of it, since it can be a little on the woody and tough side. Tarragon, fennel frawns, basil, thyme, parsely all work well.

      So you see where I'm going with this. Rather than just list recipes, there's a basic method that you can improvise on top of.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Darren72

        I sometimes add a pinch of sugar to the dressing, not much but more to round off any sharp edges and smooth it. You don't want so much that sugar is an identifiable ingredient, keep it very subtle.

        1. re: Darren72

          Definitely let the shallots "marinate" in the vinegar for 15 minutes. That's the key, because it really mellows the flavor. Add a nice pinch of sea salt at the same time. (And definitely mince the shallots, the smaller the better.) Then I stir in the mustard, then add the oil. I don't really bother to emulsify it thoroughly, especially if I won't be using it right away. But I do give it a nice whisk right before adding it to the greens. I like this with champagne vinegar also, especially if the greens are more delicate. Try sherry vinegar, or try mixing vinegars. If you're not using shallots or garlic, mix your vinegar, mustard and salt and let them sit about 15 minutes before adding the oil.

          1. re: Darren72

            billyeats' post below reminded me of another general tip: you can substitute other acidic ingredients for all or part of the vinegar above. billyeats uses balsamic and oranage juice. You could also use lime juice, lemon juice, wine, etc.

          2. My dressing repertoire is weak too, so I'm looking forward to the answers you receive! I've been using the dressing from this recipe on epicurious for everything... it has lots of my favorites in it... thyme, balsamic, shallots! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            1. One of my favorite to whip up is a maple vinagrette:

              3 parts Olive oil
              1 part Balsamic vinegar
              A squeeze of fresh orange
              A touch of maple syrup (only the good stuff mind you)
              A touch of dijon mustard
              Salt & pepper

              1 Reply
              1. re: billyeats

                Sounds like a great vinagrette. I'm having some friends over tomorrow for dinner. Will definately try your recipe, thanks!

              2. My fave lowfat dressing is simple:
                Juice of 2 lemons
                4 pkgs Splenda
                2 TBSP Olive Oil (light)

                Tart, sweet and just plain GOOD on any salad!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sallieb190

                  Just in case you don't know: light olive oil has the same amount of fat and calories as regular oil. The "light" refers to the strength of the flavor.

                2. Greek salad dressing.

                  1⁄2 Cup, Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
                  1⁄2 Cup, Olive Oil
                  2 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
                  2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
                  1 Tsp. Each, Salt and Pepper

                  Serve on lettuce with slivered red onion, green pepper, crumbled feta and kalamata olives.

                  It's a very strong dressing. I almost blew the doors off myself at first. Then I came to love it.

                  Enjoy
                  DT

                  1. Vongerichten has a great one, proportionally:

                    1 Tbs EVOO
                    1 tsp soy sauce
                    1 tsp lemon juice
                    (I sometimes add shallots, pepper, thyme, or sesame seeds)

                    He uses this with avocado slices, asparagus, and white muchrooms in one of his cookbooks; it's really great with most anything IMO.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: steinpilz

                      I use a very similar recipe. I substitute any type of vinegar...malt vinegar, black vinegar, basalmic vinegar for the lemon juice.

                      Also,I sometimes just use Teriyaki sauce as the dressing.

                      peace, jill

                    2. For variety I make a olive oil and pomegranate molasses vinaigrette, about a tablespoon of pom. molasses to about a quarter-cup of olive oil. Pomegranate molasses which is a very reduced form of pomegranate juice has a tart-sweet flavor which I find more interesting than most vinegars. You can add other flavors - herbs, garlic, shallots etc. It's quick, easy and delish.

                      1. I don't usually watch Essence of Emeril, but I watched a Tivo-ed episode last night on vinaigrettes. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_... There's a basic balsamic vinaigrette, a French vinaigrette, and a creamy herb vinaigrette. They all looked just a little bit different from your standard vinaigrette, perhaps a nice change.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          juice of one lemon
                          1-2 minced garlic cloves
                          salt and pepper
                          one teaspoon dijon
                          olive oil

                          Mix them in that order, and best served on a tender lettuce like Boston. Sooo lemony and garlicky and YUMMY.

                          1. re: C70

                            Yes, if you mix them out of order, it turns into a tomato pie. :)

                            But seriously, the order matters if you are going to stop before you add the olive oil and let the previous ingredients marinate. Plus, if you are going to emulsify it, you of course would want to add the olive oil last (edited.)

                            1. re: Darren72

                              It's really about kinda marinating the garlic with the salt and lemon juice. LOL

                              some people don't know about emulsifying so I had to be precise. Now bug off, k? ;) and try my dressing!

                              1. re: C70

                                The other reason, my friend, and one that nobody's mentioned so far in this thread, is that salt dissolves in lemon juice, vinegar, etc., but not in oil.

                            2. re: C70

                              I do a really similar one, but I also use a few drops of hot sauce. Never tried it in that order, though!

                          2. I make a simple vinaigrette, even for one or two people.

                            To simplify things, make the dressing in the bottom of your salad bowl.

                            For each person, in order of whisking:

                            One tsp acid ( red wine vinegar, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, or balsamic)

                            One 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard

                            Large pinch sugar

                            Large pinch salt

                            Optional:

                            1 tsp chopped fresh herbs
                            or 1 tsp grated lemon zest
                            Freshly ground black pepper

                            Whisk all together, then add:

                            One Tbs EVOO per person .

                            Up to one hour ahead, place your greens on top of the dressing.

                            Toss just before serving.

                            1. I have a few favs:

                              Balsamic, dijon, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, healthy pinch of sugar and olive oil. This goes well with a spinach salad, walnuts or pecans, gorgonzola and dried cranberries or cherries. (also is a GREAT marinade for meat)

                              Similar to one mentioned above:
                              3/4 cup maple syrup (I like the darkest I can get)
                              1 teaspoon salt
                              1/2 cup rice vinegar
                              1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
                              1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
                              Sometimes I add a bit of chopped rosemary to this one - I love maple and rosemary together.

                              One other favorite (LOVE thyme and lemon!):
                              1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (can use hazelnut or walnut oil)
                              2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
                              3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
                              1 clove garlic, minced
                              3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
                              Pinch freshly cracked black peppercorns

                              However, full disclosure, recently I've been into just a sprinkle of vinegar or lemon, a drizzle of oil, and S&P on my greens. First time I did this and hand turned them to make sure they were all covered, I was amazed at how much I liked this simple solution.

                              1. Thanks for all your advise and recipes!!!

                                I've printed the entire thread, and am studying it now. I'll let you know how it works out...

                                P.S. Why is it we are daunted by the simplest things--yet we take on very complicated recipes with ease? (ie; Koulibiaca--no problem with that, but am hesitant to make vinaigrette???)

                                1. One of my favorites couldn't be simpler: equal parts olive oil, fresh orange juice, and aged sherry vinegar, plus salt and pepper to taste. Easiest to assemble in a covered container and shake very hard to emulsify just before dressing your salad.

                                  1. Thanks for all your suggestions!

                                    Here is my "vinaigrette report":
                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...