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Vinaigrette recipes feature unique flavour combinations

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Once you get familiar with which ingredients work together, it’s easy to create your own vinaigrettes.

Dietitian Andrea Miller of Whitby, Ont., starts with a 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. She prefers a plant-based unsaturated oil for its health benefits, sunflower, safflower or canola oil for a lighter flavour or maybe a cold-pressed olive oil for a bolder statement.

With vinegar, it’s all about taste, although cost can be an issue. She suggests starting with less expensive versions to get familiar with the flavours.

Miller usually adds a little sweetener such as honey, sugar, maple syrup (which she calls “fabulous”) or artificial sweetener; a savoury or tart ingredient such as about five millilitres (one teaspoon) of Dijon mustard or a squeeze of lemon juice; and some herbs (minced garlic, dried oregano or dried basil, for example). It all depends on the salad.

The vinaigrette recipes below offer some creative and flavourful combinations.

GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH SOUR CHERRY VINAIGRETTE

Cherries are not used as often as some other fruits to flavour vinaigrettes, but this dressing and salad are a delightful balance of sweet and sour.

150 ml (2/3 cup) olive or vegetable oil

75 ml (1/3 cup) cider vinegar

75 ml (1/3 cup) sour (tart) cherries, pitted

30 ml (2 tbsp) grainy Dijon mustard

10 ml (2 tsp) liquid honey

Salt and pepper, to taste

125 ml (1/2 cup) goat cheese

2 amaretti cookies, finely crumbled

1 l (4 cups) mixed baby arugula, baby spinach and Boston lettuce

In a blender, combine oil, vinegar, cherries, mustard, honey, salt and pepper and process until emulsified. Set aside.

With a teaspoon, evenly measure out 12 pieces of goat cheese. Between palms of hands, form into balls. Coat all over with amaretti crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (These can be made 1 day ahead.)

To serve, place mixed greens on salad plates. Top with goat cheese balls; drizzle with vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Foodland Ontario.

BASIC VINAIGRETTE

This all-purpose vinaigrette is good on almost any combination of salad greens. Try using different mustards and vinegars to achieve the flavours you enjoy.

5 ml (1 tsp) granulated sugar

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

5 ml (1 tsp) freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard

30 ml (2 tbsp) wine vinegar (red or white)

125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

In a bowl, whisk sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, mustard and vinegar. While whisking, drizzle oil into mixture.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE

This dressing can be served warm. Simply microwave it for 15 seconds and it’s perfect for a wilted spinach salad.

30 ml (2 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

30 ml (2 tbsp) apple cider vinegar

15 ml (1 tbsp) liquid honey

2 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt

175 ml (3/4 cup) vegetable or peanut oil

In a bowl, whisk together balsamic and cider vinegars, honey and salt. While whisking, pour in oil in a thin steady stream until emulsified.

Makes 250 ml (1 cup).

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

LEMON DIJON VINAIGRETTE

This vinaigrette is good drizzled on almost any salad made with fresh shrimp and is especially tasty with the Shrimp and Melon Salad recipe below.

30 ml (2 tbsp) white wine vinegar

30 ml (2 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

5 ml (1 tsp) grated lemon zest

30 ml (2 tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice

30 ml (2 tbsp) granulated sugar

30 ml (2 tbsp) liquid honey

10 ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard

150 ml (2/3 cup) soybean oil

In a bowl, whisk together white wine and balsamic vinegars, lemon zest and juice, sugar, honey and mustard. While whisking, pour in oil in a thin steady stream until emulsified.

Makes 300 ml (1 1/4 cups).

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

SHRIMP AND MELON SALAD

Sweet melons are gorgeous with pink shrimp and white rice and the combination is set off by Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe above).

500 ml (2 cups) cooked white rice, cooled

300 to 375 g (10 to 12 oz) cooked medium shrimp

500 ml (2 cups) cubed fresh melon (such as casaba, honeydew or cantaloupe)

2 ripe avocado, diced

125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped green onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

50 ml (1/4 cup) Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe above)

In a bowl, combine rice, shrimp, melon, avocado, green onions, garlic and vinaigrette.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

ORANGE CINNAMON VINAIGRETTE

This vinaigrette will add a spiced citrus zip to salad greens.

10 ml (2 tsp) grated orange zest

125 ml (1/2 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice

50 ml (1/4 cup) natural rice vinegar

5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon

50 ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a bowl, whisk together orange zest and juice, vinegar and cinnamon. Whisk while drizzling in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 250 ml (1 cup).

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

POMEGRANATE VINAIGRETTE

Vinaigrettes can add visual appeal as well as flavour. This red vinaigrette is perfect for a green salad served with Christmas dinner.

125 ml (1/2 cup) sherry wine vinegar

125 ml (1/2 cup) pomegranate seeds, crushed

15 ml (1 tbsp) liquid honey

2 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground white pepper

175 ml (3/4 cup) soybean oil

In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, pomegranate seeds, honey, salt and pepper. While whisking, pour in oil in a thin steady stream until emulsified.

Makes 425 ml (1 3/4 cups).

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

SESAME NOODLE SALAD

Vinaigrettes work well with many pasta salads. This dressing uses the distinctive taste of soy sauce in a salad featuring toasted sesame seeds, egg noodles and vegetables.

Dressing

30 ml (2 tbsp) toasted sesame seed oil

15 ml (1 tbsp) canola oil

10 ml (2 tsp) low-sodium soy sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Salad

375 g (12 oz) egg noodles, cooked and cooled

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) snow peas

125 ml (1/2 cup) julienne carrots

2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped green onions

50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped cilantro

10 ml (2 tsp) toasted sesame seeds

In a sealed container, vigorously shake sesame and canola oils, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine noodles, snow peas, carrots, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Drizzle dressing on top. Stir to coat.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: “350 Best Salads and Dressings” by George Geary (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2010).

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