I grew up thinking “vinaigrette” just meant oil and vinegar. I also thought it didn’t matter much what kind of vegetable oil you were using, and the only kind of vinegar was white distilled. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t understand why would anyone want that on their salad. So I used the “creamy” stuff in bottles … which of course didn’t have any cream in them. (Rule of thumb: If the label on the front says “creamy” the ingredients listed on the back probably won’t.)
Then a couple of years ago I discovered extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Wow. Now I can’t understand anyone wanting the stuff in bottles.
Soon after I discovered balsamic vinegar, I started noticing just how many kinds of vinegar there are: cider, red wine, white wine, rice, malt … Lots and lots of options here.
But I was still mostly just pouring the oil and vinegar over my salads. Then one day I hit it with the immersion blender first. It didn’t just mix the oil and vinegar, it completely changed the texture. It became creamy. I had discovered emulsion, the same thing that turns oil, vinegar and eggs into mayonnaise.
1½-2 cups extra virgin olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
4-6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon each:
* black peppercorns
* kosher salt
* dry basil
* dry oregano
* dry parsley
* mustard powder
* 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional, see below)
Peel the garlic and cut the hard part of the stems off. Put them in your food processor along with the peppercorns, salt, and a half-cup of the olive oil.
Blend until the garlic and pepper are both ground really well.
Now add the rest of the herbs — and the sugar, if you want it — another half-cup of olive oil, and the vinegar.
Blend well, and you should notice the texture starting to thicken up.
Keep adding oil and blending, tasting after each round, until you like the consistency. (If you have a food processor that you can add ingredients while it’s going, pour the oil in a thin stream while blending constantly.) Then pour it out into a serving bowl.
I would have added a little more oil, but I ran out of room in the food processor. You can see now how much thicker it is.
This is good on salads, or as a veggie dip.
See all those yummy herbs?
Serve immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks. It will still be good longer than that, but will eventually start to separate back into oil and vinegar.
And that’s it.
Oh, remember when I said the sugar was optional? As a dressing or dip, this does need some sugar to balance the tartness of the vinegar and herbs. If you substitute balsamic vinegar, that’s already sweet enough on its own. And if you’re planning to use this as a marinade, you can just skip the sugar altogether.
Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.