Many cooks claim that if you know how to make a good vinaigrette, you know how to cook. That’s not to say, however, that everyone agrees on what makes a good vinaigrette.
Basically, all vinaigrettes are made with oil, vinegar, and seasonings. The classic proportion of oil to vinegar in a vinaigrette is 4 to 1. But personally, I prefer a ratio of 3 to 1. Knowing how to make a vinaigrette really comes down to tasting and adjusting the ingredients to your liking.
Here is a recipe for making a basic vinaigrette. It can be varied by using different kinds of oils and vinegars or by adding shallots, mustard, garlic, herbs, capers, or olives.
- 2 tablespoons Vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 part vinegar with salt, pepper, and any seasonings to taste. Slowly whisk in 3 parts oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Whisk well before using and taste and adjust seasoning.
About Olive Oil
Americans are finally learning what Mediterranean cultures have known for centuries: Olive oil not only tastes sublime, but it’s good for you as well.
This fruity oil is now considered a good guy in the war against fat, because it is monounsaturated and contains cholesterol-lowering properties.
Olive oil is available in several different grades, according to the degree of acidity. The first cold pressing of the olive gives the finest, fruitiest oil, naturally low in acid. These cold-pressed, low-acid oils are called extra virgin. Subsequent pressings use heat, which yields oil of lesser quality and a higher level of acidity. Olive oil is then classified (in order of acid level) as super-fine, fine, or virgin.
The best way select olive oil is by its color and flavor. Deep-green oils are produced from less mature olives and have a pungent fruit flavor. Golden oils, pressed from ripe olives, offer a mellower, smoother flavor. Both are good quality; it’s all a matter of taste. Keep in mind that price is not always a good indication of quality, it depends on the flavor you like the best.
Heat affects the flavor of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, so it doesn’t make sense to cook with these oils. Save them for cold dishes like salads and for drizzling onto cooked food before serving. For cooking, use a mild, virgin olive oil. Store olive oil in a cool dark place for up to 6 months or in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.