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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.