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Dijon Vinaigrette

April 29, 2014

Salad dressings are a staple in many refrigerators. How many bottles and jars of dressing are in yours right now? Chances are, several. Dressings are one of the easiest condiments to make, aside from mayonnaise. And many creamy dressings have a mayonnaise base, so you can try your hand at the easiest first.

Vinaigrettes are usually easy to make and contain only a few simple ingredients. But they suffer from instability issues. The dressing quickly separates out and you are left with salad leaves slicked with oil and not much else. How can we improve this staple without altering it beyond recognition? For staters, will give this emulsion the protein it needs to stabilize. We’re also getting rid of the ubiquitous “spice packet” that plagues so many vinegar and oil dressing recipes. Instead, we’re just going to use minced garlic and a bit of finely ground salt and pepper.

The advantages of vinaigrettes are many. Just a small amount of dressing provides more than enough flavor for an entire bowl of salad greens. Very little salt is needed, and the preservative properties of the vinegar means that these dressings will keep for a very long time without spoiling.

Obviously vinegar will be an important component of this dressing, and with so many different vinegars to choose from, there is no limit to the different flavors a vinaigrette can achieve. For our purposes, we’ll be using a light-flavored white wine or champagne vinegar. Red wine vinegar has significantly more acid and would produce a much sharper flavor. Balsamic, aside from turning our vinaigrette the color of Pepto Bismal, would add a bit of sweetness to this dressing. And that’s not what we’re going for here.

As the title implies, we’ll also be using Dijon mustard in this dressing. The better quality mustard, the better the dressing will taste. Since this will be incorporated into a dressing, middle-range mustard like Grey Poupon will work superbly. It’s widely available and the white wine used to make the mustard won’t alter the flavor of our dressing.

And finally, what should we dress with this vinaigrette? A simple mix of tender salad greens would be best. An iceburg wedge, which had gone out of style but has recently returned, topped with toasted pecan halves and crumbled feta would work well with this vinaigrette drizzled over top.

Whatever you choose, there’s no need to purchase salad dressing ever again.

Dijon Vinaigrette

  •  1 large egg yolk
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground salt
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup canola oil

Mix the egg, garlic, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking to emulsify.

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