Friday, December 1, 2006

Classic vinaigrette dressing


This is the basic recipe for plain vinaigrette. It is the most widely used dressing and can be used to flavour any kind of salad.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake vigorously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


* Unless otherwise specified, always use extra virgin olive oil for dressings.
* Plain vinaigrette is best made fresh but can be kept for 2 or 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator
* For a more garlicky flavour, add 1/2 clove of crushed garlic to plain vinaigrette and whisk well.
* Use red wine vinegar in place of white wine vinegar to alter the colour and the strength of a dressing.
* A quick way to alter the taste of plain vinaigrette is to use olive oil or vinegar infused with spices or herbs. These are available in most delicatessens and supermarkets but can also be made at home,
* Nut oils such as walnut or hazelnut make a delicious alternative to plain vinaigrette. Substitute 4 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons nut oil.

Another way to vary the flavour of a plain vinaigrette is to substitute one of the basic ingredients with another flavour. Take tarragon for example:
* Tarragon vinegar in place of white wine vinegar, or
* Tarragon mustard instead of Dijon mustard, or
* Tarragon-flavoured oil in place of olive oil.

For a stronger flavour substitute two of the ingredients. For example:
* Tarragon vinegar and tarragon mustard in place of white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard, or
* Tarragon-flavoured oil and tarragon mustard instead of olive oil and Dijon mustard, or
* Tarragon-flavoured oil and tarragon vinegar in lieu of olive oil and white wine vinegar.

An extra strong flavour is acquired by substituting all the ingredients (except salt and pepper) for an alternative flavour. However, be careful as certain flavours are stronger than others and by using all of them at once the mixture can become overpowering. It all boils down to individual taste, so keep experimenting!

There is a wide variety of different flavoured oils, vinegars and mustards to choose from. Look in supermarkets, specialist food shops and delicatessens; between them they stock almost every available flavour. The trick is to experiment because at the end of the day it comes down to personal taste.

Here are a few examples of interesting flavours to watch out for: basil, cidar, lemon, paprika, chilli, rosemary, hazelnut, walnut, sesame, almond, pistachio, truffle, raspberry, mint, garlic, dill, sage, thyme, shallot and c

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