Vinaigrette salad dressings are made by mixing oil with something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice. This mixture is then enhanced with salt, herbs, and spices. Aside from being used as a salad dressing, it can also be used as a marinade. Traditionally, vinaigrettes consist of 3 parts oil and 1-part vinegar mixed into a stable emulsion. However, the term is also applied to mixtures that have different proportions. Vinaigrette is also known as “French dressing” in the 19th century.
Most of us expect a lot of vinaigrette dressings because oil and vinegar don’t naturally mix. Try to shake a bottle of vinaigrette dressing and you will see the two parts come together. However, when you set the bottle down, the two parts will separate again in seconds, the oil going to the top and all the vinegar to the bottom.
If you want to learn how to make the perfect vinaigrette dressings, then you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to share with you some tips and tricks on how to make the perfect vinaigrette salad dressing.
Basic Vinaigrette Formula
As mentioned above, the ratio of oil to vinegar should be 3 to 1. However, different kinds of vinegar have different strengths, therefore, the 3:1 ratio can be adjusted depending on your taste preference as well. It’s because there are people who like tangier dressings and others only like their vinaigrette dressing mild.
To test the flavor of the vinaigrette dressing, try to dip a piece of lettuce into it. Shake off the excess dressing and take a bite. This way, you will be able to tell how your salad will taste instead of tasting the vinaigrette alone.
What Oils Can Be Used?
In making a vinaigrette dressing, it’s fine to use oils that are labeled “vegetable oil” or “salad oil”. Aside from those, you can also opt for any light, neutral-flavored oil like soybean, canola, and safflower oil. You can also substitute olive oil for salad oil, but make sure to use extra virgin olive oil and not the light varieties which are cheaper. There’s, in fact, a wide range of flavored oils you can buy in the market today. This includes distinctive oils like walnut or avocado oil, making the variations on vinaigrette formula endless.
What Vinegars Can Be Used?
Some of the best kinds of vinegar to be used in making vinaigrette salad dressings are balsamic, sherry, or raspberry. If you want a fruity vinaigrette, you can choose cider vinegar which is made from apples. Balsamic vinegar, on the other hand, is sweet, dark, and aged in specially treated wooden racks and it is one of the most sublime kinds of vinegar you can find.
Aside from those, you can also use rice vinegar if you want to make some Asian-flavored vinaigrette salad dressings. This vinegar is made from fermented rice. Of all the vinegar choices, the most neutral-flavored is white vinegar. However, it is not ideally used in a vinaigrette. If you do not have any choice, you can opt for a white wine vinegar at least.
What Juices Can Be Used?
Aside from vinegar, juices can also be used in making vinaigrette dressings. One of the popular juice to use is lemon juice. You can also add lemon juice together with vinegar and oil because it can also complement and enhance the vinegar.
Lemon is not the only juice you can use on vinaigrettes because all kinds of citrus fruit juices can be used like orange and lime which have high acid content. Also, each citrus fruit juice has its own unique flavor. For example, if you use orange juice, it can add sweetness but it will not change the overall formula of the vinaigrette.
What Seasonings Can Be Added?
When making a basic vinaigrette salad dressing, you don’t really need a lot of seasonings. Just a bit of Kosher salt and ground white pepper will do the trick. Some of the other seasonings you can add are onion, garlic, herbs, celery seed, black pepper, paprika, and more. You can also add other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce and mustard.
If you want to counterbalance the tartness of your vinaigrette, you can also add some honey, which can also help stabilize the emulsion of oil and vinegar. This means that when your vinaigrette has some honey, it will remain emulsified for a longer period of time.
Mixing Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Properly
As mentioned before, it is quite challenging to make a vinaigrette salad dressing because oil and vinegar are tough to mix together. One of the most effective ways you can try is by combining them in a blender. If there’s no blender available, you can simply combine all the ingredients in a glass bowl and whisk them together carefully. Never use an aluminum bowl because vinegar can react with the aluminum and it can produce a metallic flavor.
Aside from using a blender or mixing in a bowl, you can also try sealing the ingredients in a glass jar or bottle and then shake it to combine. To get the best results, make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature when you start. It’s because when the oil is cooler, it will be more difficult to make an emulsion.
After mixing everything up, let the flavors blend for a while then add some additional ingredients you want such as onion, garlic, and herbs. After that, let it sit from 1 to 3 hours then you can add it to your salad.
These are some of the tips and tricks we can share on how to make the perfect vinaigrette salad dressing. If you want a recipe for it, you can check the recipe we found from Food Network. If you want to know more about making other sauces and dressings, you can also check out our post on Making and Serving of Hummus.