All-Star Ingredient: Vinaigrette
Vinaigrettes are versatile dressings made up of oil, an acidic ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice, and an emulsifier. This special condiment can be spread on salads and sandwiches, and can be used as an amazing marinade for meat dishes. Read up on this dressing below—you won’t vinai-grette it!
Breaking Down Vinaigrette
The basic components of any vinaigrette are simple. You’ll first need an acid, such as vinegar or citrus juice. Your fat or oil, which will be the bulk of your vinaigrette, can come from extra-virgin olive or canola oil. We recommend including some herbs, spices, or aromatics for extra flavor. We love mixing in minced shallots or parsley. To finish off your vinaigrette, you’ll also need an emulsifier.
The Advantages of an Emulsifier
Technically speaking, a vinaigrette is an emulsion, just like hollandaise sauce. An emulsifier is used in a vinaigrette to stabilize the oil and vinegar. Common emulsifiers include egg yolks, soy lecithin, and mustard. These ingredients all include lecithin--the stabilizing compound. In many vinaigrettes, mustard is the go-to stabilizer. Since most households have a jar of mustard handy, this is a pretty easy pantry add-in.
The Golden Ratio
You should follow a basic ratio of one part acid to three parts oil, plus the emulsifier. The amount of mustard you’ll use will depend on the amount of vinaigrette you wish to yield. A strong rule of thumb is that for every cup of vinaigrette, you’ll need about a tablespoon of mustard to stabilize your emulsion. If you want to whip up a cup of balsamic vinaigrette, combine 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup olive oil, and 1 tablespoon mustard. Shake vigorously in a jar until you’ve achieved peak emulsion, and enjoy!
- 1/4 cup acid
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- Aromatics of choice