Dressings

Vinaigrette

The classic vinaigrette contains olive oil and vinegar. The proportion was once quite a definite 2:1, but even that rule is no longer followed. People have become more health conscious, there is a far greater variety of oils and vinegars available, and I think that people are thinking more about what they are doing when they are cooking. Some salads need a lighter touch than others, and garlic is no longer considered necessary in a dressing.

I would say that a classic vinaigrette is still made with virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, with perhaps just a touch of lemon juice, so my classic vinaigrette is as follows.

3 tablespoons olive oil (virgin)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic or 2 roasted garlic cloves (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, and toss over salad just before serving.

If serving more than one dressed salad in a meal, or at a party, try to vary your vinaigrettes, both in the oils used and the vinegars. Apple Cider Vinegar has pretty much replaced the standard white wine vinegar for us, so that’s what we use most of the time.

Remember too, that lemon juice is treated as a vinegar for the purpose of the exercise. Fresh herbs steeped in white wine vinegar and left in a corner of the cupboard just keep getting better and better.

Pear and walnut salad

Red wine vinaigrette
3 corella (or other) ripe pears, skin on, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
150g watercress or rocket, stems removed
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
90g walnuts, preferably Californian, roasted

Red wine vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 lemon, juice only
100ml best red wine vinegar
300ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 Combine garlic, lemon juice and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in olive oil, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Makes about 400ml.