Last night, we had dinner guests. Well, not really guests because they’re family. My brother-in-law, Buddy, and his best gal, Laura, came over and they brought everything needed to make a salad. Laura made the salad with lettuce, apples and toasted almond slices; Buddy, in the photo, made the salad dressing — a very simple vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, some lemon juice, salt, pepper and a dash of chili sauce.
I know that it seems more convenient to just pick up a bottle of salad dressing from the supermarket shelves but if, like me, you like a different dressing every time you have a salad, you’ve probably been in a situation when your fridge shelf is lined with bottles and bottles of different salad dressings, none of which gets consumed before the expiry date. The thing is, it really is more practical to make a dressing from scratch and making only as much as you need for one meal. That way, you don’t need to crowd your fridge with bottles of salad dressings. If you’re into vinaigrette, all the ingredients are pantry staples anyway.
What is a vinaigrette? Essentially, it is a mixture of salad oil and vinegar. Extra virgin olive oil is the popular choice for salad dressings but you can use any flavorless or light-flavored vegetable oil. What kind of vinegar should be used in making vinaigrette? Any kind. White wine vinegar and red wine vinegar are classic, balsamic vinegar is incredibly good, rice wine vinegar is light and subtle.
So, if you mix salad oil and vinegar, you have a vinaigrette? Yes. But you can make it even tastier and more aromatic. And here’s where you can apply your creativity to make lots of variations too. Herbs and spices are very good additions to the basic vinaigrette. A little grated garlic or ginger, freshly cracked black pepper, chopped fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, rosemary, dill, mint, parsley… You can even add lemon, lime or orange zest. Make a different combination each time and the variety of vinaigrette that you can create at home becomes endless.