Tricks to a perfect salad dressing

Whether as a side dish, a starter or an entire meal, there’s always room on the table for salad.

Few dishes capture quite as elegantly the best of the season’s produce, showcasing the freshest bounty be it snapped up at the local market or pulled from your own backyard.

Binding all the ingredients together in the bowl is the vinaigrette; a simple emulsion of vinegar and oil (and a few other things if you fancy them).

Simply combine 4 parts oil in a with 1 part vinegar in a jar, add a little salt, then shake to combine. Dress the salad immediately before serving.

Few things are as simple or as infinitely customisable. Take your salads to the next level with these simple vinaigrette tips.

The vinegar: the acidity of a salad is what makes it such a wonderful accompaniment to other dishes, be it the Sunday roast or a heaving bowl of pasta. Rather than reaching for the same bottle of vinegar every time, try experimenting with different varieties, pairing them to the ingredients in your salad.

White wine vinegar begins its life as a neutral blended wine that produces a simple vinegar. For added complexity and character, choose a vinegar made from a specific wine or grape, such as champagne vinegar, merlot vinegar, cabernet vinegar, or the classic sherry vinegar.

The oil: just as important as the vinegar in your vinaigrette is the oil.

The most classic of vinaigrettes combines extra virgin olive oil with white or red wine vinegar, but by simply switching out the oil or the vinegar (or both) you can create something truly special.

Try extra virgin olive oil with champagne vinegar, a subtle combination that brings bitter leaves to life.

Walnut oil and sherry vinegar combine to make a heavenly dressing for tomatoes or radishes, while avocado oil and pomegranate molasses are perfect pairs in a Middle Eastern-inspired salad.

A word on balsamic: Rather than starting with wine, most traditional balsamic vinegar begins with the juice of freshly harvested grapes. Since the sugar in the juice hasn’t transformed into alcohol, the resulting vinegar is sweeter, fruitier and far less acidic.

Use it straight from the bottle to dress fresh tomatoes, strawberries or crayfish.

Explore a wide range of vinegars and oils, expertly produced in Australia and around the world, at your nearest The Essential Ingredient store. Our knowledgeable staff will keenly assist you in recommending the perfect ingredients for your custom vinaigrette.

Don’t live near a store? Buy oils and vinegars online for delivery to anywhere in Australia.

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