Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Salads - Vinaigrette Edition

Temps have been hitting the 90s here, burning away my interest in soups, lasagnas and casseroles. I don't want to turn the oven on, I don't want to stand over the stove. I pretty much just want to eat ice cream and popsicles until September.

What? It's an option.

Instead? I pull on my big girl pants and make salads. Yummy, cold, crisp salads, with tangy dressings and salty, garlicky meats. I'm going to do a series of posts on these guys, but let's start out with vinaigrette.

I make my own vinaigrette. And, before you get all impressed, it's mostly because I'm lazy and I'm cheap. It takes only a few minutes to dump the ingredients in a little mason jar, shake them up, and dump them on a salad. No oily bottles hanging out in your fridge, spilling on your mustards. No checking expiration dates.

Vinegar. A major component of vinegar is acetic acid. It's often described as 'bright tasting' and Food Network judges love to recommend a splash of citrus or vinegar to 'brighten' the flavors of a dish. (The scientist in me forced those punctuation marks, because I still don't have a viable definition for what the hell they're talking about). Acetic acid and citric acid (vinegar and citrus juices) also make foods sour, which sounds way less appetizing than 'bright.' Regardless of connotations, sour is one of the 5 tastes that humans can sense.

And taste hugely effects how hungry we are. You put a pile of poorly cooked Brussels sprouts in front of someone, suddenly they're not hungry. You toss a pile of ice cream, with warm fudge and salty nuts in front of that same person, and the stomach rumbles away.

So, when we eat a salad covered in vinaigrette, we bathe our tongues in low levels of yummy, yummy acid. If you remember much from chemistry, you might recall that acid

There's a whole apple cider vinegar diet out there, and I'm not trying it or advocating it. Why? Because the idea of drinking apple cider is super gross and I don't like super gross things. Interestingly, science agrees. In an article here (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23979220), researchers found that drinking vinegar makes people lose weight because they're nauseated. Just swishing it around in your mouth ('orosensory stimulation') doesn't work.

Wait, what was I talking about? Right. Vinaigrette.

So, in the summer I throw a vinaigrette on my salad because it makes me a heck of a lot less likely to eat a three scoop ice cream sundae for dinner, which is what I wanted in the first place.

I'm going to preface each of these by saying that I really, really don't measure. The idea is to throw these together quickly, to have something healthy and fast. So... Approximate. You can do it.

Here are some of my faves.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar. As nice as you can use. We get ours at Costco. Because I'm totally cheap. 
  • 1/2 c olive oil. Again, Costco.
  • 1 tbs of mustard. We use homemade, but something to help your oil hang out with your vinegar (emulsify)
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic salt or 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Throw it in an old jam jar and shake like crazy. Shake it like you've had a bad day at work. Shake it like you've waited all day for the plumber and he still didn't show. Shake it like your kids forgot their massive school assignment until 9:30 the night before it was due.

Yeah. It should be ready.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 c white wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 c olive oil 
  • 1.5 tbs of mustard
  • 1 tbs of honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste


    Sesame Vinaigrette
    • 1/2 c rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c olive oil
    • 1/4 sesame oil
    • 1/2 tsp of garlic salt or 1 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/2 tsp crushed ginger (I get the little tubes at the grocery to make this fast)
    • Salt and pepper to taste


      Creamy Vinaigrette

      • 1/2 c white wine vinegar 
      • 1/2 c olive oil 
      • 1.5 tbs of mustard
      • 1 tbs of mayo
      • 1/2 tsp of garlic salt or 1 tsp chopped garlic
      • Salt and pepper to taste