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Today, we talk about salad dressing, the inexplicably most forgotten part of the salad. You buy aged white balsamic pickled beets, local goat cheese, organic lettuce blends of sweet pea shoots, romaine, and other things you've never even heard of ( small un-sponsored shoutout to Organic Girl for making my new FAVORITE lettuce blend -- Sweet Pea ), and then, after all of that effort, you open a bottle and pour some pre-made, shelf-stabilized, chemically emulsified junk on it.
Look, I'm the first to admit that I'm a food elitist, but I can appreciate a shortcut ( and heck, even an Oreo ) when appropriate. I've made brownies with a boxed brownie mix, and I'll tell you what, no one died. I love my Better Cake Mix Pumpkin Muffins, and the title tells you one of the main ingredients in those! I also often put frozen spinach in hot dips, and I have served guests doctored jarred pasta sauce with them none the wiser. Sometimes a shortcut is what we need to get through the day, and I'm telling you, as a food elitist, that it's okay. Sometimes. Salad dressing is not one of these "okay" shortcuts -- and I've tried them all. Most have that weird, gelatinous texture. Some of the "better", high-end, all natural, or organic lines get closer to to something edible, but still use too much oil and tend to weigh down the lettuce with their gloopy weight and muted flavors. Jarred salad dressings are to homemade what canned cheese is to fresh. You can serve it to your guests, but honestly, how rude. Even if it's just you, you deserve better!
I've got quite the arsenal of salad dressings up my sleeve, and I think it's high time I started sharing them. This French Vinaigrette is my absolute favorite basic recipe. I even make it without the shallots when I don't have them handy, and it's still absolutely wonderful. Give it a try; I'm sure you'll be a convert!
- ½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Water
- 1 Tablespoon Shallot thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Whisk all of the ingredients up to, but not including, the oil with the vinegar.
- Whisking constantly, slowly stream the oil into the vinegar to form an emulsion. Don't stress about it too much, it only has to be as emulsified as you want it to be. If I'm serving salad to guests, I'll be extra careful to make it be perfect. If it's just for my work lunch, I'll give it a few solid rounds of whisking and call it a day.