Friday, July 18, 2008


If you do one thing after reading my blog posts, get some kosher salt and start using it. If you do one more thing, stop buying store bought salad dressing!

I am amazed, when I walk into a market, at the array of bottled and packaged salad dressings. The aisle is bursting with a dressing for everything-green salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, diet salad (?), and more. The scary thing is, most of these dressings list sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup at the top of their long, long list of ingredients. If the dressing has more than one item on the ingredient list you don't recognize or can't pronounce, step away!

Making your own vinaigrette could not be easier. Instead of buying artificially sweet salad dressing at the store, spend your money on a great bottle of extra virgin olive oil. Find one you like-sweet, fruity, floral, etc.-they vary widely so pick the bottle you enjoy. My favorite right now is Bariani , local to Northern Cal and really delicious. Next, pick a couple bottles of vinegar. I like sherry vinegar (look for a Spanish bottle) and a nice red wine vinegar. They are both reasonably priced and will last a long time. Keep a shallot or two in your pantry, along with a bottle if Dijon in your fridge, and you're ready to go.

The basic French vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part acid (usually vinegar, although lemon juice works too). To make mine, I use a jelly jar. I add my vinegar first then a pinch of salt, a tsp. or so of minced shallot and a pinch of Dijon. I shake it up and let it sit for a minute-the salt will dissolve and the shallot will shed its raw bite. Next I add my extra virgin olive oil, put the lid on and give it a good shake. The mustard helps emulsify the dressing, keeping the oil and vinegar from separating and creating a creamier consistency. I taste it next and adjust the seasoning. If it's too acidic, I add a pinch of salt before adding more oil-the salt cuts the acid and usually does the trick.

My jar of vinaigrette will keep for about 5 days in the fridge. When I use it I can add chopped fresh herbs, crumbled blue cheese, or minced garlic. All these things go in just before serving or the dressing doesn't keep as well.

It is so simple, you know what goes in it, and it tastes delicious! Try it and you'll find yourself walking right past that dressing aisle next time you're shopping.

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