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Vinegarette Rut.....need a way out

tcamp Jun 28, 2009 07:12 AM

I always end up making pretty much the same thing: Olive oil, red wine vinegar or balsamic, dijon mustard, various herbs, S&P. Use it for salads, marinades, etc.

Whatcha got that I can try?

  1. Karl S Jul 1, 2009 08:06 AM

    Ditch the balsamic. For acid, use freshly squeezed citrus juice of choice (it MUST be fresh squeeze for this, as the floral notes of citrus juice fade within hours, just leaving acidic notes), sherry vinegar, or muscat vinegar. Marinate finely minced shallots in the acid before adding the oil. If the olive oil is too strong for the salad, it can be cut with other, more neutral oils to improve the balance (always taste, don't assume). Alternatively, you can also use nut oils (like walnut or hazelnut oil). Ginger, scallion and sesame oil are of course a classic east Asian combination.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Karl S
      kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 08:46 AM

      Walnut oil, mixed with canola so it isn't overwhelming, some orange marmalade, a little red wine and scallions is a great dressing for romaine with goat cheese, blood oranges, carmelized walnuts, red onions and sweet mango.

      1. re: kchurchill5
        Karl S Jul 1, 2009 10:55 AM

        Yes, one can use raw canola oil without the nasty effect (fishy flavors) it can create when exposed to high heat, though I consider canola otherwise a crappy oil to be avoided, so it's never in my house. I am glad to see more chefs/recipe writers moving away from it in the past couple of years.

        1. re: Karl S
          kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 11:09 AM

          You could use grapeseed but I don't like it much. I don't use canola too often but in this case all walnut oil to me is too much so I like to cut it a bit with canola or vegetable.

          1. re: kchurchill5
            Karl S Jul 1, 2009 11:25 AM

            Walnut definitely must be cut with a neutral oil.

            1. re: Karl S
              kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 11:39 AM

              What would you use, I'm open

              1. re: kchurchill5
                Karl S Jul 1, 2009 12:01 PM

                Well, after grapeseed, I'd use safflower or even a bland olive oil (need not be EVOO - in fact, this is one of the good uses of non-virgin olive oil - when you want the viscosity of olive oil without too much flavor). Next down, soybean oil. Corn oil and peanut oil have, to my palate, distinct flavors, but that's not true for everyone, and they are perfectly fine oils.

                1. re: Karl S
                  kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 04:49 PM

                  I totally agree with the non evoo, I do have some corn oil and some sunflower oil. You could use either I guess.

                  1. re: kchurchill5
                    tcamp Jul 2, 2009 06:39 AM

                    I'd never used grapeseed oil until a couple of years ago when I was looking for something with a higher smoke point for frying falafels. Boy, what a difference grapeseed made over olive oil (slutty, not virginal). I always keep a can in my pantry now.

                    1. re: tcamp
                      MMRuth Jul 2, 2009 06:53 AM

                      I pretty much always use grapeseed oil if a recipe calls for vegetable oil.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        Caitlin McGrath Jul 2, 2009 10:39 AM

                        I do too, or if concocting a dressing or anything else where I don't want olive oil's flavor. Grapeseed is my all-purpose neutral oil. It has so many things going for it - very clean, neutral flavor, high smoke point, etc.

          2. re: Karl S
            c oliver Jul 2, 2009 06:51 AM

            I recently threw the canola oil out. NEVER used it.

      2. l
        lergnom Jun 28, 2009 02:52 PM

        One choice is to buy Vincotto, which is vinegar that's been cooked with flavorings. The orange is particularly good.

        I try to think outside the box on salad dressings. For example, we buy taramasalata - which is a spread made from cod roe - and use that as a dressing with a little oil. If the taramasalata is freshly made - the stuff in the jars by Krinos is bland - then it's really special on greens. Pretty much anything that can spread can be a dressing. I've made dressing from peanut butter, soy & fish sauce, kind of like you'd put on cold noodles. The best way, IMHO, is to use some creamy and then finely chop some actual peanuts.

        Again, anything can work. Have a good blueberry jam you like? Try that. All you need is a way to spread it and an acid to balance it, so try mixing some in a bowl with vinegar and see if that tastes good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lergnom
          tcamp Jul 1, 2009 07:44 AM

          Thanks, all. These are great ideas. I have a week at the beach coming up and I plan to try out many of these.

        2. Caitlin McGrath Jun 28, 2009 12:48 PM

          Simply olive oil and aged sherry vinegar; or one of my favorites is equal parts olive oil, fresh-squeezed OJ, and aged sherry vinegar.

          For something more involved, I like olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon, fresh tarragon, a bit of garlic, and a little honey. Especially good in the fall and winter on a salad with some sharp greens, pears, and dried cranberries. Add nuts if you like.

          1. j
            jencounter Jun 28, 2009 10:27 AM


            I love this lemon-ginger dressing. It's good on...everything.

            1. c oliver Jun 28, 2009 07:52 AM

              Olive oil,lemon juice, shallot, s/p. Mince the shallot or thinly slice and let them *soak* in the juice for about an hour. Then add the evoo, etc.

              13 Replies
              1. re: c oliver
                chef chicklet Jun 28, 2009 08:27 AM

                Love this dressing, really fresh tasting. Makes me want to eat buckets of salad.

                1. re: c oliver
                  cassoulady Jul 1, 2009 10:57 AM

                  try starting this one with an egg yolk, it acts as a gret emulsifier- with a fresh egg, it adds beautiful color too.

                  1. re: c oliver
                    lynnlato Jul 1, 2009 05:03 PM

                    What does soaking the minced shallot in the juice do?

                    1. re: lynnlato
                      kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 05:34 PM

                      Reduces the strong flavor of the onion or shallot I would presume. I never soak mine. I love a nice onion flavor. It not strong for me at all, but some like the onions a bit milder.

                      1. re: lynnlato
                        c oliver Jul 1, 2009 07:04 PM

                        I think I got this tip from Karl S. It *calms down* the flavor of the shallot so it seems to *marryI* better in a salad. Hey, Karl,, did I describe that right???

                        1. re: c oliver
                          lynnlato Jul 1, 2009 07:14 PM

                          I've tried soaking in cold water and slicing top to bottom - neither seem to settle an unruly onion (not talking shallots here). But maybe a citric acid would do the trick.

                          1. re: lynnlato
                            c oliver Jul 1, 2009 07:19 PM

                            It does seem to work. And, of course, Karl S is the one I follow absolutely :)

                            1. re: lynnlato
                              kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 07:25 PM

                              Never worked for me, but the onion flavor doesn't bother me. Only tried it a few times and I could never tell the difference.

                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                c oliver Jul 1, 2009 07:27 PM

                                What doesn't work for you?

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  kchurchill5 Jul 1, 2009 07:32 PM

                                  soaking the onions never seemed to lesson the strong flavor. I only did it for a friend who is not much of a onion fan, but noticed no change. For me I care less, I love the flavor. I also did it for my mom after surgery her mouth was very sensative to a strong flavor but she said no difference and again I couldn't tell neither could other people eating the dish.

                            2. re: c oliver
                              Karl S Jul 2, 2009 02:32 AM

                              Roughly speaking, yes. Shallots offer the best culinary alchemy here.

                              1. re: Karl S
                                tcamp Jul 2, 2009 06:40 AM

                                Even though I am not averse to strong flavors generally, I love the shallots soaked in lemon juice. Tried it the other night and it was easy, tasty and non-fussy. Perfect for a weeknight dressing.

                                1. re: tcamp
                                  c oliver Jul 2, 2009 06:50 AM

                                  Exactly. It's one of *sum of the parts* things, I believe. In the past, I bought shallots for a particular recipe. Now I keep them on hand.

                        2. kchurchill5 Jun 28, 2009 07:25 AM

                          Here are several variations

                          I also have some vinaigrettes like one with egg, vinegar and herbs, water and sugar (no
                          oil) which is excellent a creamy vinaigrette.

                          And may of these you can add some dijon or cheese to make a creamy dressing. I usually make most of mine shaken in a simple tupperware container. Easy and quick and great storage if you don't use it all.
                          First, try using different vinegars:
                          rice wine, sherry and champagne make excellent vinegars.

                          - tarragon with champagne vinegar, olive oil a little fresh orange zest and a drop of orange juice and fresh thyme make a great dressing
                          - rice wine, dijon, honey, lime and ginger
                          - rice wine, sesame oil, soy, canola oil, brown sugar, pepper flakes
                          - Champagne vinegar, dill, olive oil, shallots

                          Now uses of fruit and citrus

                          Make several vinaigrettes adding citrus
                          - Lemon, thyme, olive oil, oreango and a little red wine
                          - Orange, rice wine, canola, ginger
                          - Grapefruit with honey, canola oil and white wine vinegar

                          Now, preserves

                          - Add orange marmalade to a little white wine vinegar, olive oil, shallots and thyme
                          - current jelly with garlic and thyme with canola oil and a little red wine
                          - mint jelly with a little olive oil and red pepper is great over a citrus salad
                          - raspberry is great with garlic, walnuts, canola oil, orange juice and a little white wine vinegar, shallots and served over a grilled romaine salad with blue cheese.

                          1. shaogo Jun 28, 2009 07:15 AM

                            Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Maytag Blue Cheese crumbles, a minced white onion, and minced flat parsley. Season with dill seeds, s&p.

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