A Simple Vinaigrette, Two Ways
When you buy a bag of Cheetos, you know just what to do with it: Rip it open and devour the DayGlo-colored contents.
But it's harder for some of us to figure out what to do with a bag of fresh brussels sprouts, green beans or other offerings from the local farm stand or farmer's market. As Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, notes in today's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, it's great to encourage folks to eat swiss chard and kale. But if they don't know how to turn those vegetables into a tasty dish, they may never try them again.
Doiron, who's helping mount a campaign to get people to celebrate Independence Day by eating locally produced foods, says knowing how to make a simple vinaigrette is a good step toward learning to enjoy fresh-picked vegetables. Sprinkled atop a bed of greens or drizzled on lightly steamed or grilled veggies, a vinaigrette brings out produce's flavor without overpowering it.
Because it's so simple, though, vinaigrette depends on your using quality vinegar and oil. It doesn't take a lot of either ingredient, so you should splurge on buying the best-tasting kinds you can afford.
Doiron recommends Julia Child's recipe, which tweaks the classic vinaigrette proportions (one part vinegar to three parts oil) in favor of going light on the vinegar, at least at first. As he notes, you can always add more, but you can't remove it once it's in there. (You can of course add more oil to compensate, but it's easier just to work with one variable here.)
It's up to you to decide which other tastes you like in your vinaigrette, from shallots to scallions, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and in what quantities. It's fun to play around and come up with a mix that suits you best.
When making vinaigrette, there's the classic way -- slowly whisk the oil into the other ingredients, drop by drop, creating a stable emulsion -- and there's the shortcut -- throw everything into a jar and shake till it's blended. I tried both the other day, and though the whisked version was prettier (its color was lighter), both tasted pretty much the same. I didn't add salt to either, as I find Dijon mustard salty enough, but you might want to add a dash.
If you have a favorite vinaigrette (or other home-made dressing), please share your recipe in the comments section.
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