Thursday, 5 January 2012

Sauce Vinaigrette

Photos retrieved

Today, let’s see how to make a Sauce Vinaigrette. Don’t shiver, don’t fret; ‘tis a really easy recipe. And once you’ve tasted your home-made Vinaigrette, you’ll throw away all your bottles of industrial super-market salad dressing. Keep in mind: that super-market junk normally contains much more sugar, salt and cheap, bad fat (ouch! for your health) than the version you’ll prepare yourself. And the Vinaigrette is so easy to prepare that you don’t have any excuses. I mean, for heaven’s sake, you don’t even have to do any actual cooking to make that sauce!

For a starter, don’t go searching for a Monsieur Vinaigrette or a Madame Vinaigrette on Wikipedia. Vinaigrette is the French diminutive for vinegar (vinaigre). In other countries, especially in Great Britain, the sauce is also known as French Dressing.

Vinegar has been used for ages in order to spice up dishes or to store them for a longer period; especially in those dark pre-fridge times. In order to lessen the acidity of vinegar, oil has been added we don’t know when by we don’t know who. And there you have the basic recipe for our Sauce Vinaigrette. It is commonly accepted that is it one part of vinegar for two parts of oil. Some could argue for hours that it must be one part of vinegar for three parts of oil, but you know what? We will not argue; we will taste our sauce and add some more oil if necessary, okay?

Normally, we’d use olive oil here in France. But you can as well prepare your sauce with other neutral vegetable oils like sunflower oil. You can even choose fancier oils like walnut oil, sesame oil or whatever. Just be careful because those more exotic choices are very tasty and the mixture could become rather lopsided, okay? Don’t come complaining afterwards, sweetie.

What you need: 
  • Olive oil (or any other quality oil of your choice) 
  • Vinegar (whatever you like, actually; for health or religious reasons, you can as well use lemon juice) 
  • Salt, pepper 
  • Optional: mustard, crème fraîche, spices, chopped herbs (basil, parsley, chive are the most commonly used ones) 
How to proceed: 
  • For the basic version (we’ll call it v.1), put a spoonful of vinegar directly into your (empty) salad bowl. Why indeed use another bowl, that you’ll have to wash afterwards? What? You stubbornly insist on making your Sauce Vinaigrette in your favourite little Hello-Kitty-bowl? Well, then just go ahead. I stick to my salad bowl, if you don’t mind. 
  • Add two (or three) spoonfuls of oil. 
  • Add some salt and pepper. 
  • Whisk your sauce into a nice emulsion. 
  • Add your salad. Don’t forget to wash it before adding, though; nothing is more unpleasant than to feel your teeth crunch on something you might not care to know about. 
  • A more elaborated version (v.2) consists in adding a spoonful of mustard to your vinegar. You then whip up a smooth first sauce, to which you add your spoonfuls of oil. 
  • Version number 3, or v.3 includes some crème fraîche. I always call it the Vinaigrette Lyonnaise because a friend from Lyon has taught me how to prepare it. You start by whipping up a creamy sauce of one spoonful of crème fraîche and one spoonful of mustard. Then, you continue as if you were preparing our v.2. 
  • Once your Sauce Vinaigrette is ready, you can add other spices or chopped herbs. Or just go completely insane and invent entirely unexplored culinary territories by adding, I don’t know, garlic, shallots, truffles or even blue cheese? This is, after all, an open recipe whose limitations are your taste. 
  • Of course, this recipe will provide you with just enough sauce for a small bowl of salad. If you’ve planned to prepare a salad for your family of 20, you’ll have to adapt the proportions. But this being a culinary blog and not an arithmetic one, you go and do your maths yourself. 
I’m sure you’ll be very satisfied once you’ve started using your own, home-made dressing. Feel free to let me know if you liked it. 


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