It's not always easy to get vegan mayonnaise, so vinaigrette salad dressings are a godsend to us vegans. I have recently started making my own and in the process I have discovered a few tips which really are really useful. The name “vinaigrette” applies to any dressing made of vinegar and oil to form an emulsion, which is a bit of a contradiction, as oil and vinegar do not naturally mix. However, just follow these tips to help minimise that problem!
First off, the basic recipe is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar – remember this and you won't go far wrong. If you get it the wrong way round, you will soon find out anyway, from your puckered cheeks and the assault on your tastebuds! Sometimes these proportions may need to be adjusted slightly, for a different taste, but they are the best basic formula to use. You can use just about any vegetable oil, or the ones that are marketed as “salad oil”. A delicious variation to use is extra virgin olive oil, and I have used another distinctive-tasting oil in my recipe below, for some extra flavour. You usually need a fairly light-flavoured vinegar, but as with the oil, the possibilities are really endless, and depend on your taste. I have gone for a personal favourite in my recipe, as with the oil.
All manner of seasonings can be added, once you have the basic emulsion: you don't need much more than salt and pepper, but also a dash of lemon juice gives a nice zing, so does a touch of garlic, and herbs of your choice. Also, a great addition is either sugar, honey (if you are a non-vegan) or agave syrup (vegan alternative). Not only because it adds a touch of sweetness to counteract the vinegar, but also because it helps to stabilise the emulsion, so that it doesn't separate out so quickly – anchors it, for practical purposes, at least long enough to dress and eat the salad.
You can either mix ingredients in a blender or just whisk them up in bowl (but don't use aluminium, as this can impart a metallic taste to the finished product!) It is also best to have everything at room temperature, as the colder it is, the more difficult it is to make an emulsion. Once mixed, let it sit for a while to marinade, so that all the flavours blend nicely, but don't refrigerate.
Here is my latest offering on the home-made vinaigrette theme. I have recently discovered walnut oil and apple cider vinegar for cooking, and I am addicted to both, so I decided to combine them in this dressing! They are both distinctive and strong flavours which I think complement each other really well. They also both have a lot of health benefits, which is a nice bonus. Hope you like this:
Ingredients (Makes about half a pint/150 ml dressing)
6 fl oz/120 ml walnut oil
2 fl oz/ 30 ml apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar, or squirt of agave syrup
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, e.g. sage, thyme, rosemary.
Combine all ingredients in a blender or mix in a bowl, then let sit for a couple of hours to marinade. Whisk again before using to dress your favourite salad (especially good on a green leafy one). I also like it mopping it up with bread, even without the salad!
Image courtesy of www.myrecipes.com