Spruce up your salad greens—or any food—with this no-recipe recipe for an unbeatable homemade dressing.
The easiest way to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet is by eating salads. Full of fiber, folates, and antioxidants, greens are an excellent addition to your healthy prenatal diet—or after baby arrives! However, salad every day for lunch or dinner can get pretty boring.
An easy way to take your greens up a notch is by adding interesting ingredients, and then dressing them with a knock-out vinaigrette. Pregnancy can send your taste buds went into overdrive, such that certain flavors (and additives in bottled vinaigrettes) might make your stomach spin. But homemade vinaigrette is often a good way to please your sometimes-picky pregnant palate. It may even by a way for salads to earn a spot on your "cravings" list.
Mastering the art of making vinaigrette is great, basic technique to have within your cooking repertoire. Vinaigrettes are wonderful, not only for green salads, but handy to use as marinades, to drizzle over grilled veggies or fish, or to serve as a dressing for pasta and grain salads. Plus, vinaigrettes keep well in the fridge for up to 7 days, giving you a pretty big bang for your prep-time buck. Just remember to bring your vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk with a fork before serving. There's only one simple proportion to remember, yet endless ways to combine ingredients to concoct your own personal favorite.
The Vinaigrette Secret Ratio: 1:3
Vinaigrettes by definition are a mixture of oil (olive oil is a great go-to option, for its flavor and health benefits) and of vinegar (the ingredient with which you can get creative). The typical proportion for vinaigrettes is 1 part vinegar to 3 - 4 parts oil (to taste).
The Non-Recipe Vinaigrette Recipe
Yield: 1 cup
¼ cup vinegar of choice
¾ - 1 cup olive oil
Instructions: The Secret to Correct Consistency Oil and water do NOT mix, unless you use this trick. You'll need something to help bind the oil and vinegar together. When I teach cooking classes I call this step the "insurance" –it's also an easy way to add flavor to your dressing. Start with 1 - 2 teaspoons and add more as needed.
Combine your vinegar of choice with one of the thickeners listed below in a medium sized bowl. Slooooowly pour in the oil, whisking continuously, until combined. Start with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and taste. If it's too tart for your liking you can continue to add a little more oil until it's just right. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Vinegars to Keep on Hand
Balsamic – great for Italian vinaigrettes
Apple Cider Vinegar – lightly sweet, pairs really well with fall flavors
White Wine or Champagne Vinegar – elegant, neutral, lightly flavored and colored
Red Wine Vinegar – perfect for Greek salads and grilled meats
Rice Wine Vinegar – lightly sweet and great for Asian dressings
Thickeners to Keep on Hand
Maple Syrup – amazing with balsamic and cider vinegars
Dijon Mustard –a staple that works in all dressings
Honey – pairs well with any vinegar for a lightly sweet finish
All Fruit Jam – orange marmalade and apricot jam are amazing with rice wine vinegar. Raspberry will work wonders on red or white wine vinegar
The combination above will give you delicious, thick, basic vinaigrette, bur if you're in the mood to get a little more creative, try these easy add-ins to create your own custom version:
* Minced garlic, shallot or onion for some added bite
* Chopped fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, and tarragon work well)
* Replace some of the oil with chicken stock, fruit juice, pureed roasted peppers, or water to slash calories and fat
* Replace some of the oil with flavored oil for a taste twist (sesame oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil)
Top Flavor Combinations
* Balsamic Vinegar + Maple Syrup + Shallots + Olive Oil = Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
* Red Wine Vinegar + Dijon Mustard + Red Onion + Dill + Olive Oil = Greek Vinaigrette
* Rice Wine Vinegar + Orange Marmalade + Sesame Oil + Olive Oil = Orange-Sesame Asian Vinaigrette
* White Wine Vinegar + Dijon Mustard + Honey + Tarragon + Olive Oil = French Vinaigrette