If you are anything like me, you’re excited about this season of fresh summer vegetables. I love backyard gardens, container gardens, patio tomato plants, farmer’s markets — really, any kind of local produce. And I sure do enjoy a light salad loaded with all that the season has to offer. My simple steps for making a tasty, healthy vinaigrette will help you top your fresh veggies perfectly.
Even if you are not an oil and vinegar kind of salad eater it’s handy to know how to whip up a great salad dressing. I love a little olive oil and lemon juice on my salads, but with just a little effort, I can whisk up something really special. By adding an emulsifier, such as a little mustard or mayonnaise, you will come up with a thicker dressing that will really stick to your salad greens. There are many good bottled dressings on the market, but lots of them are high in sugar, fat, and salt — not very healthy. A great dressing can be stirred up with healthy choices such as olive oil, or canola oil. And you can control the sugar and salt and still have an explosion of great flavor. Choose from an array of fresh or dried herbs, and add a little minced garlic. But this comes with a warning; once you try this it is difficult to go back to bottled dressings.
Some research shows that mayonnaise acts as a better emulsifier than mustard, and it “holds” the dressing together longer than when we use mustard alone. The only difference is that the dressing will separate a little more quickly when not using mayonnaise.
If you love the taste of a good mustard and simply prefer it without mayonnaise, just whisk together again when it separates. But honestly, even if you do not like mayonnaise, it takes such a tiny bit to “emulsify” that you really won’t even taste it. It’s all about choices and making it a flavor you enjoy.
I am listing a basic formula with oil, vinegar, emulsifiers and flavoring options. Mix and match, and whisk up a signature flavor to serve on your salads, or even over a dish of boiled, diced potatoes for a quick potato salad. It’s also great over a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes or cucumbers. In addition, you can use is to brush vegetables prior to roasting or grilling. Enjoy food made fresh!
2 tablespoons vinegar (choose from: red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice wine vinegar, rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
6 tablespoons oil (choose from: olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil or try using 5 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil for a rich, nutty flavor)
1 teaspoon mayonnaise (choose from light or regular)
1 teaspoon mustard (choose from: Dijon, yellow, stone-ground, spicy, brown or honey mustard)
2 teaspoons fresh chopped herbs (choose from: Parsley, basil, dill or thyme)
Note: You may want to use any combination herbs, but remember to use half the amount if you are using “dried” herbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Other flavor options (choose from: 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced shallot, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and/or a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice)
Combine all ingredients except oil. Whisk until smooth and there are no lumps from the mayonnaise or mustard. Slowly drizzle oil into the mixture by pouring in a slow stream as you whisk. It will thicken and look shiny. If the vinaigrette is too tart for your liking, add about 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
This will make approximately 1/2 cup dressing. Toss with your favorite salad greens or fresh veggies.