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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Basic Vinaigrette and Variations #SundayFunday

Updated: Jan 21

Have you made a New Year's resolution to eat more vegetables? Well the Sunday Funday bloggers are sharing made-from-scratch salad dressings to help make your efforts delicious. Sue of Palatable Pastime is hosting.

Stacy of Food Lust People Love, Sue of Palatable Pastime, Rebekah of Making Miracles, and Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm coordinate this low-stress group; we only participate when we are inspired. As I mentioned, Sue is hosting this week. Here's our line-up of salad dressings...

6 Homemade Mason Jar Dressings for Spring Salads

This is a video I posted on the Culinary Cam YouTube Channel a couple of years ago. and if you prefer to learn by watching - instead of reading - this will give you some good ideas...

And if you prefer to learn by reading, here you go!

Basic Vinaigrette and Variations

A vinaigrette is a vinegar and oil-based dressing. You can use it on salads or as a marinade. It's quick, simple, and so flexible. If you watched the video above, you can change the flavor profiles of the dressing just by switching up the kind of vinegar you use. These keep in the fridge for a week or so, but because you are making it based on a ratio, it's easy to make just what you need. Rinse and repeat!

The traditional French vinaigrette formula is 1 to 3; I prefer a little more acid, so my preferred ratio is 1 to 2. That's 1 part acid, or vinegar, and 2 parts oil. Also, consider heartier greens such as kale can tolerate more acid as that will actually soften them after you toss them while more delicate greens such as butter lettuce might need less vinegar and should only be dressed right before serving.

Layers of Flavor

And that's it - the basics of a vinaigrette. After that, it's all layers of flavor. For example, mustard will add a complex creaminess while maple syrup or honey adds an earthy sweetness. Freshly pressed garlic adds a spicy bite and pulverized seasonal fruit is a delicious way to augment the flavor if you use those fruits in the actual salad.

What Kind of Vinegar?

While you can use any vinegar you like, here’s how I choose between my three go-to vinegars...

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic vinegar makes a slightly sweet, sometime bold dressing that is fantastic on green salads that include fruit. I especially like using fresh fruit that matches any fruit that might have been used in the balsamic such as fresh figs with a Mission fig balsamic vinaigrette or slices of plums or pluot with a plum balsamic vinegar.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Red wine vinegar makes a vibrant vinaigrette that complements bright vegetables such as bell peppers and tomatoes. So, it is the perfect dressing for a Greek or Italian salad. Sherry vinegar is similar to red wine vinegar, but slightly less bold.

White Wine Vinaigrette

White wine vinegar makes a more subtle vinaigrette that works wells with delicate flavors such as butter lettuce, cucumbers, or zucchini. This is what I like to toss into pasta salads. Champagne vinegar is even more mild than white wine vinegar.

That's a wrap on my offering for our homemade salad dressings post for this week's #SundayFunday. The group will be back next week celebrating National Corn Chip Day. Stay tuned!

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