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Smedley
01-29-2007, 05:41 PM
I used to never like salad dressing of any kind. If I was offered a salad as part of a meal, I would get it without any dressing.

Then one day I was watching those pretty boys on the Food Network, and I thought, "It sure looks simple enough, I'll try it."

My best results come with an oil:water ratio of about 2:1. I say "water" because vinegar isn't the only game in town. Soy sauce, and lime juice are also quite acceptable here. But a good vinegar is always a treat.

For vinegars, there is the classic balsamic, but also look at a nice apple cider vinegar or a rice wine vinegar, all of which impart their own special little kick to the dressing.

The oil of choice for me is a nice olive oil, but I'm also lucky enough to have access to a set of flavoured grapeseed oils. Good for cooking and salad dressing purposes. I have used both a citrus enhanced and a basil enhanced version. Citrus being nice and sweet and tangy, basil being very earthy. These add to and complement the other salad components. If you can find a similar product in your home town, give them a try.

Last but not least is some fresh ground salt and pepper. Also dried herbs like basil or thyme. I have also found a nice freeze dried oregano, really rekindles the oregano flavour. If I am using dried herbs, I make it at least the night before so everything has time to mix in with the herbs and the herbs can infuse their subtle flavours into the mix.

I think all the additives and whatever in the store-bought stuff turned me off. But now I'm a lover of my salad dressings!

mrob
01-29-2007, 05:59 PM
Ah, the 2 step vinagrette--sheer genius!

Try a squeeze of anchovy paste right before shaking--its amazing. Not fishy, just earthy and mysterious--and deeeeelish.

ouch
01-29-2007, 06:04 PM
There are some very nice sherry vinegars, as well as rice wine vinegars- red, white, and black.

For oils, some of the best for salads are walnut and hazelnut.

Doc4
01-29-2007, 06:32 PM
You mention lime juice, but really any citrus juice can be used to advantage. Try fresh-squeezed orange juice!

And of course, you're adding the dressing to the whole salad and tossing right before serving, rather than adding the dressing to individual portions (keeps the salad from getting drowned in dressing!)

murchmb
01-29-2007, 07:49 PM
You mention lime juice, but really any citrus juice can be used to advantage. Try fresh-squeezed orange juice!

And of course, you're adding the dressing to the whole salad and tossing right before serving, rather than adding the dressing to individual portions (keeps the salad from getting drowned in dressing!)

And don't forget to "dry" the greens with a salad spinner or paper towels. The dressing sticks much better when the surface it is to adhere to isn't already saturated with water.

DirtyDave
01-29-2007, 08:13 PM
An idea for oil is grape seed oil. I get it from Williams Sonoma. It's pricey, but it greatly enhances the flavor of a vinaigrette.

bababoosky
01-29-2007, 08:18 PM
I infuse a little garlic into my olive oil (about 15 seconds in the microwave) wisk in some balsamic and some dijon mustard (to your liking). MMM MMM

acudoc1
01-29-2007, 08:59 PM
Another nice oil is sesame oil. It imparts a toasted nutty flavor to anything you use it with. You wouldn't want to use it extensively as your only oil. That would be way too expensive. Just add it to your salad dressing or whatever. Of course it goes great in asian cooking.

Another great flavoring oil is walnut oil.

Gee (he says to himself) can you shave with walnut oil?

David

mjsorkin
01-30-2007, 12:55 AM
Add a small amount of mustard to the vinegar before mixing and it will help emulsify the vinegraite. And please tell us about your technique, I hope you are using a wire whisk.

My best vinagrette was made (by me) with "Baena Do" Olive oil from spain, and Fairway's (NYC supermarket) premium brand of Balsamic. I whisked up a classic 3:1 ratio and the resulting dressing didn't "break" for weeks. It was delicious.

------Michael

MacArthur Mike
01-30-2007, 06:19 AM
Another tip....add some shallot to the dressing, either raw or sauteed or raw. it adds a depth of flavor to your dressing and is an ingredient that Americans do not use enough of.

docslytherin
01-30-2007, 10:55 AM
my balsamic vinaigrette recipe:

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 clove garlic pulverized with side of chef's knife*

put it all in a tupperware container and shake it up. it will emulsify and should hold together pretty well.

(*to pulverize for those who haven't done this: take the clove of garlic, place the side of your chef's knife on it (on a cutting board) and smack it with your palm. once it's a bit crushed, basically just keep dragging the side of your knife across the garlic until it's nothing but paste. this will take a few swipes across.)

Smedley
01-30-2007, 06:38 PM
These are all great tips!

I've used a grain mustard to great advantage in dressings. The little mustard seeds and other bits give it some body.

Shallots, eh? I have a bag of those waiting to be used in something...

No whisk. I've been putting it in the sealed container and shaking. I will have to try that next time.

Anchovies, garlic...who doesn't love these things? :D

I had some blackberries today for dessert and thought they would make a nice salad ingredient. Not too sweet, a bit tangy. Maybe I'll add them to some spinach and mushrooms for tomorrow's work lunch...

ouch
01-30-2007, 06:55 PM
(*to pulverize for those who haven't done this: take the clove of garlic, place the side of your chef's knife on it (on a cutting board) and smack it with your palm. once it's a bit crushed, basically just keep dragging the side of your knife across the garlic until it's nothing but paste. this will take a few swipes across.)

Try putting your kosher salt on top of the garlic when you do this. The salt acts as an abrasive and makes the process much easier.

Bricktop
01-31-2007, 03:34 AM
Another tip....add some shallot to the dressing, either raw or sauteed or raw. it adds a depth of flavor to your dressing and is an ingredient that Americans do not use enough of.And let the shallot sit in the vinegar for about 10 minutes before you make the dressing. It's far more flavorful than just bunging it in at the end.

MacArthur Mike
01-31-2007, 06:30 AM
Since there seems to be a few posters on here talking about balsamics, I highly reccommend going to www.zingermans.com and checking out their selection. Alot of the stuff found in the supermarket is junk with flavoring and a lot of extra sugar added. I will admit, I have become somewhat of a balsamic snob since I went to Italy last year and toured a "tradizonale" balsamic plant in Modena. Its really quite interesting and anyone looking to learn some more can read the primer on the zingermans website.

You don't have to break the bank either,while there are some expensive "real balsamics," the tradtional balsamics are reserved or adding a drop or two to strawberries, vanilla gelato, or any special dish that you want to add another layer of flavor to. The traditional should never be used for salad.

Outside of this category, anything else really isn't a balsamic per se, however, the ones sold at zinermans are very similar to the traditional available very aged and at a fraction of the price, with no additives. I highly reccommend the 30 year old anniversary vecchia dispensa. It will be leaps and bounds over the stuff you find at the store.

doctorsimon
01-31-2007, 09:14 AM
Some great tips here on food, as always.

Can I suggest a lemon-garlic dressing too? This is a modification on a recipe from my Hungarian great-aunt who lived to the age of 98.

Create a garlic puree in a pestle and mortar with some salt and sugar. Mix in freshly squeezed lemon and a nice oil. Let sit for a little while so the garlic flavour can infuse the lemon juice. Add a little freshly ground white pepper to taste.

The sugar sweetens the acidic lemon juice well, and the pureed garlic is sweeter than when chopped or pressed. The oil should be quite light, the fressing works well when not too overpowering. White pepper keeps the whole concoction pale in colour.

Simon.

P.S. Chilli peppers with sugar in the pestle and mortar makes a nice sweet chilli dipping sauce too!

mrob
01-31-2007, 06:43 PM
Since there seems to be a few posters on here talking about balsamics, I highly reccommend going to www.zingermans.com and checking out their selection. Alot of the stuff found in the supermarket is junk with flavoring and a lot of extra sugar added. I will admit, I have become somewhat of a balsamic snob since I went to Italy last year and toured a "tradizonale" balsamic plant in Modena. Its really quite interesting and anyone looking to learn some more can read the primer on the zingermans website.

You don't have to break the bank either,while there are some expensive "real balsamics," the tradtional balsamics are reserved or adding a drop or two to strawberries, vanilla gelato, or any special dish that you want to add another layer of flavor to. The traditional should never be used for salad.

Outside of this category, anything else really isn't a balsamic per se, however, the ones sold at zinermans are very similar to the traditional available very aged and at a fraction of the price, with no additives. I highly reccommend the 30 year old anniversary vecchia dispensa. It will be leaps and bounds over the stuff you find at the store.

+1 on Zingermans. Its about an hour from where I live and I always visit when in Ann Arbor. Great balsamics, very authentic.

But be careful--you'll find LOTS of other items to tempt you on their web site.

htownmmm
01-31-2007, 07:44 PM
Ah, the 2 step vinagrette--sheer genius!

Try a squeeze of anchovy paste right before shaking--its amazing. Not fishy, just earthy and mysterious--and deeeeelish.

Somebody's been listening to Rachel-besides me. :wink:


Marty

mrob
02-02-2007, 10:39 AM
No, not Rachel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was using anchovy paste before anyone ever heard of RR. Let's not associate RR with any discussion of good food.:mad:

Lynchmeister
02-06-2007, 01:37 PM
No, not Rachel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was using anchovy paste before anyone ever heard of RR. Let's not associate RR with any discussion of good food.:mad:

Deeeeee-lish! :wink:

Doc4
02-06-2007, 04:17 PM
Now that I think about it, I often will grind fresh pepper on my salad and sprinkle on some parmesan cheese ... but I do this before the dressing, to keep the dry stuff from just coating the top of the salad and go througout instead.