Forget Your Old Vinaigrette Recipe—the Times They Are A-Changin’
For decades, nay centuries, cooks and recipes have used the same ratio for vinaigrettes. One-part acid to three-parts fat. It has ever been thus and so. Doesn’t matter if you are making the mildest citrusy salad anointment to the punchiest garlic Dijon, that ratio has been pretty sacred.
Our palates have changed. We are used to foods that have more heat, more intrigue, mild is no longer the order of the day. Sriracha is in everyone’s fridge, and salsa has surpassed ketchup as the most bought condiment, so it is no wonder that it is time for our vinaigrettes to change as well. Both from a flavor perspective, where less fat means that vinaigrettes are more acid-forward which whets the appetite, and from a heath perspective where everyone is concerned about unnecessary added fat in our diets.
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But this shift means that all of those traditional recipes need adjustment.
Never fear: vinaigrette is still a ratio-based recipe, but now, with a different ratio! So how do you do it?
There are two ways to embrace the new vinaigrette. First, simply re-adjust your current recipes by reducing the fat. One-part acid to two-parts fat will make for a dressing that is a little punchier than your usual but still balanced and delicious. And if you like things even bolder, go to a one-to-one ratio and see how you fare.
The second method replaces one part of the fat with another ingredient, usually an emulsifier. For example, adding one-part Dijon or other mustard for kick, or one-part miso for Asian flair, or one-part jam for a sweet dressing. You can also add that part as something textural or extra flavorful, like chopped shallot, capers, toasted nuts, or minced dried fruit.
I tend to lean towards the one-to one ratio, but I really love vinegar.
My current favorite combos are:
1. 1 part lemon juice, 1 part minced shallot, 1 part Dijon mustard, 1 part capers, 1 part extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of sugar if your lemon is super acid. Great on greens.
2. 1 part rice wine vinegar, 1 part grated fresh ginger, 1 part white miso paste, 1 part peanut oil, dash of toasted sesame oil, dash of soy, pinch of sugar. Perfect for a slaw.
3. 1 part red wine vinegar, 1 part peach or apricot jam, 1 part sunflower oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Great on a summer salad with baby spinach, snap peas, strawberries and toasted pistachios.