Week four of the The Kitchn Cure ended over the weekend. I was taking advantage of my mother-in-law's house and babysitting to get a break from the mess and exhaustion of having Hubby away. The girls and I visited family, celebrated birthdays, and even threw a baby shaker for one of our recently arrived nephews. And halfway through Hubby returned home, then drove another three hours to spend what was left of the weekend with us. Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of Cure activities going on.
The focus for this week was learning something new and maybe prettying things up a little. Honestly, I had little motivation for new challenges after a week of single parenting. So rather than try something new I went back to a kitchen staple that I've been ignoring - vinaigrette.
In my university days I actually used to just put vinegar on my salads. It must be the Ukrainian in me, but I preferred the tang and tartness of just vinegar. I did eventually evolve when I discovered good olive oil, and decided not to ration it as an extravagant expense. In recent years, however, Hubby has reverted back to his favourite Golden Italian and me to Annie's Goddess Dressing. The real impetus is that I hate dressing a salad only to have leftovers. You can't have leftover dressed salad, that's nasty and slimy.
Bring back the vinaigrette, I say! So simple, and actually cheaper than bottled dressing. Added bonuses include the variety of flavours and controlling the salt and sugar content. Buy a pretty bottle and leave it on the counter with your oils (unless you use fresh lemon juice). Reach for it as those salad greens start poking out of the ground this summer, on grilled veggies, to marinate chicken, or drizzled over strawberries with some black pepper.
There are an infinite number of recipes for vinaigrette. I've never followed one. It is really a matter of oil, vinegar, an emulsifier, and seasonings. The ratio of oil to vinegar that I like is 2/3 oil, 1/3 vinegar. Traditionally you often see 3/4 and 1/4, but I find that lacking in tartness. Emulsifiers of choice are often mustard or even maple syrup (or both!). Just a teaspoon or so will work, more if you want a stronger flavour. And aside from S &P you can add garlic, fresh or dried herbs, a little bit of honey, some fresh fruit puree, or roasted peppers, to name a few. If you are like me - a condiment slut - you have a ridiculous variety of oils and vinegars. The flavour combinations are endless. Try balsamic vinegar with maple syrup. Raspberry vinegar with walnut oil and chopped walnuts. Garlic, mint, and oregano with red wine vinegar. Sesame oil and rice wine vinegar with fresh ginger and lime.
And may I add that this was the first time The Monster ate salad dressing on her salad. Seriously, she is a food snob. No bottled dressings, KD, or margarine for her.