Drizzle Oil and Vinegar

Drizzle Oil and Vinegar

Archive for May, 2008

Simple Vinaigrette And Your Salad Using Olive Oil And Vinegar

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Simple vinaigrette: the components required to make a vinaigrette – olive oil, vinegar, some sea salt, and a pepper grinder – not complicated at all.

The French, however, know it as “la sauce vinaigrette”, and they recognize it as something that can turn the most ordinary salad into something extraordinary. It can also be used for more than just salads. A sprinkle of vinaigrette can be used to add flavour to other dishes such as grilled fish, roasted chicken, pan-seared steak, or wilted vegetables.

People dining in hot weather prefer simple foods, grilled outdoors or fresh from the market, and vinaigrette serves this need very well indeed.

A vinaigrette is incredibly simple to make, and all you need to know is the proportion of 3:1, which indicates three parts of oil to every one part of vinegar. Because a vinaigrette is made from so few ingredients, the quality of each individual ingredient is very important, and you should try to obtain the very best of each. Make sure the vinegar oil, and sea salt are of good quality, and that the black pepper is freshly cracked.

All you need is a whisk and a bowl. Start by placing the vinegar along with the salt and pepper in the bowl, then whisking them together. While salt does not dissolve in oil, it does in vinegar. Once all the salt and pepper has dissolved, whisk in the oil. You now have your basic vinaigrette sauce.

Classic vinaigrettes are made from red wine vinegar and olive oil, with some mustard, shallots, spices, or herbs for additional flavour. You can also use different types of vinegar and oil to vary flavour, such as using walnut or hazelnut oil and balsamic, white wine, or sherry vinegar.

The oil should be drizzled slowly into the bowl as you whisk the mixture continuously, so that you eventually obtain a smooth, creamy sauce. In order to make it easier for the mixture to emulsify, you can add a little Dijon mustard to the vinegar before you add the oil. If, however, you are using olive oil of very high quality, then you should not add any mustard as this will affect the taste of the oil.

It is not absolutely necessary to emulsify the mixture, however, as it will all become mixed when you toss the salad with the dressing. Or, if your vinaigrette is to be used to sauce a plate of Petrale sole, then you may wish to have the olive oil beading in the rosy vinegar for presentation.

Depending on your preference in tastes, you may wish to depart from the traditional 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. Vinegar makes up the acid component of the sauce, and its acidity can fall anywhere within the range of 4 percent to 8 percent or more.

If the vinegar you are using has a high acid content, then you should use four parts of oil for every part of vinegar. The same rule should be applied if you are substituting lemon juice for some or all of the vinegar, or if you wish to highlight the taste of an excellent olive oil.

If you have some extra-virgin olive oil that is especially floral, then you can create a much softer vinaigrette by using a larger percentage of olive oil. This vinaigrette will perfectly complement a delicate salad of butter lettuce and fresh herbs.

A sharper vinaigrette can be made using a larger proportion of aged balsamic vinegar, that will complement dishes that will benefit from, or even require, a more pronounced flavour, such as grilled steak or a salad of wilted bitter greens.

A vinaigrette with the tang of Dijon mustard to its taste goes very well with wild salmon or seared flank steak.

You can experiment with the taste of your vinaigrettes by combining various ingredients. Add a little toasted sesame oil to olive oil and mild rice wine vinegar, or mellow sherry vinegar to walnut oil. Vary the texture of your sauces by adding chopped basil, finely diced shallots, or mashed roasted garlic. This not only changes the taste of your sauce, but gives it more body as well. You can even whisk grated ginger or stone-ground mustard and wild honey into your sauces.

You can also alter the temperature of your sauces. Heat the vinegar you use to make your sauce, or replace some of the oil with pan juices left over from cooking. The resulting sauce complements roast chicken or pan-seared steak well.

Alternatively, you can choose to keep your sauce simple. Simple vinaigrettes often taste the best – proof that sometimes simplicity creates the best tastes.

[tag] simple vinaigrette[/tag]

 

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