Salads are quicker to make when the dressing is handy, so I have always had a bottle of one of the respectable brand names waiting and ready to go. Then one day about a year ago, I read the label. No extra virgin olive oil! I checked other labels and discovered that most of the bottled dressings had no olive oil. Even the most expensive, most prestigious brands! The best I could find was a mention of extra virgin in the list of ingredients along with other oils. So I started experimenting and ended up with this superb dressing. It is significantly more expensive to make and somewhat more cumbersome to use, but the exceptionally fine flavors and clean taste of the vinaigrette for me at least are worth any extra effort and cost.
makes 14 fluid ounces (400g)
cost $12 per carafe
yield 28 tablespoons
90 calories per tablespoon
300 ml (1 ¼ cup) moderately priced extra virgin olive oil
100 ml (6 tablespoons, 2 teaspoons) sherry vinegar, at least 6% acidity
2 teaspoons flake style salt (5.6g )
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the vinaigrette in a standard glass 2 cup (500ml) measuring cup. Measure out ingredients in the order listed. Using the metric side of the cup simplifies the process, but standard cup, tablespoon, teaspoon equivalents are also listed. Beat the mixture into a state of emulsification using a wire whisk and pour vinaigrette into a 14 fluid ounce (420ml) storage carafe with a pouring spout.
Like some cooks and some dietitians I know, olive oil and vinegar need encouragement to share the same plate. There are two options: an emulsifier or brute force. This vinaigrette has no emulsifier and therefore requires a lot of agitation. It is easy to make, but can be cumbersome to use. Once made, the carafe of vinaigrette should be stored in the refrigerator. Olive oil gets cloudy and starts to congeal at that temperature. Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and shake vigorously before pouring.
How much dressing you use depends on the size and composition of the salad and of course on your personal preference. For a small salad appetizer, 1 tablespoon or ½ serving is usually enough for me. Extra virgin olive oil gets very expensive really fast. This carafe was made with a moderately priced oil $16.99 per 500ml. Sometimes I use an even more moderately priced oil $11.99 per 500ml and the carafe only costs me about $9. Going even cheaper, say $15.99 per liter (34 oz), the cost drops to under $7. Expensive extra virgin olive oils start about $21.99 per 500ml and goes exponentially up from there.
Salad greens and intensely colored raw vegetables are loaded with carotenoids and other fat soluble phytonutrients. Full fat salad dressings increase absorption rate so any oil based dressing is preferably to fat free dressings. Extra virgin olive oil is a natural source of both monounsaturated fat and polyphenols. Research on the antioxidant effects of dietary polyphenols has been promising and the FDA actually permits a qualified health claim for monounsaturated fat from olive oil and reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
My vinaigrette has a good sodium profile. The 2014 National Salt Reduction Initiative sodium target for salad dressing is 570mg per 100g and my homemade version has 560 mg per 100g. For comparison sake, a commercial off the shelf brand can be as high as 1500mg per 100g or more ….
While the health arguments are comforting and provide rational justification, the real reason I continue to make my own comes down to it just tastes better!
Per Tablespoon (14g): Calories 90, Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Sodium 80mg, Carbohydrate 0g, Fiber 0g, Protein 0g. A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.