What makes a good salad great?
The way you pair ingredients and their freshness are huge factors. But the clincher is how you dress it up! There is nothing like a homemade vinaigrette to top an already good salad. The proof is in the pudding. Actually, it’s in the vinaigrette!
I mastered the art of a tasty vinaigrette during our years as missionaries in Corsica, France. In French, the word for lettuce is “la salade.” “La salade” was just that-lettuce. A freshly tossed variety of greens drizzled with vinaigrette. In France, the salad typically follows the main course and is delicious enough to stand alone.
An American salad usually includes everything plus the kitchen sink. Don’t get me wrong. I love a loaded salad. But with the rush of getting dinner on the table, I’ve adopted the French version. I’ll simply toss some salad greens with a vinaigrette and serve it as a side dish. I might add a sliced onion or a chopped avocado. But often, it consists of simply lettuce.
Occasionally, I’ll make a big salad as a main course with all the fixin’s like this one. But often I just serve a simple salad of lettuce and vinaigrette. A great accompaniment to any meal.
Simple Vinaigrette Recipe
Why not leave those calorie-rich, chemical-laden salad dressings sitting on the grocery store shelves? Try making your own vinaigrette with these basic ingredients. You’ll improve your salad in taste and nutrition.
There are so many creative variations to this staple recipe. Experiment and have fun! Just stick with the basic oil to vinegar ratio of 4:1. It’s incredible how a few simple ingredients can bring your basic salad to a whole new level.
- 1 cup oil (I use olive oil and add a couple tablespoons of flax-seed oil for an added boost of Omega-3’s)
- 1/4 cup vinegar (my favorites: red wine, balsamic and apple cider vinegar)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. honey and/or 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- fresh minced herbs like thyme, basil, cilantro (you can use dried herbs too. Try a sprinkle of Herbs de Provence)
Use a dressing bottle or mason jar with a lid.
Measure out oil and pour it into a jar. Add the vinegar of your choice.
Add garlic, salt and pepper, honey and/or mustard and any fresh herbs.
Shake to mix. Always give it a good shake before serving over your salad.
Store vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The oil and vinegar keep quite well. It’s the garlic and herbs that risk going bad.
Not Just for Salads!
- Add fresh flavor to cooked veggies! Try tossing it with grilled asparagus or blanched green beans
- Use it to marinate meat for grilling
- Toss it with cold rotini pasta mixed with some fresh or grilled veggies
- Skip the mayo! Use it on your potato salad instead
- Drizzle on half an avocado
Making a vinaigrette is so simple. It does take a few more minutes to throw together than it does to twist open the top of a store-bought version. But just think of what you gain in flavor and health!
So grab your ingredients and get shakin’!
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