Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Roasted Garlic, Mustard & Herb Vinaigrette

Homemade Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Dressing
I used to think that homemade salad dressings took too much effort, or were too hard to get to taste "right." But once I started reading the ingredient lists on most supermarket brands, the unpronounceable chemicals, additives and other undesirable ingredients convinced me to try my hand at making my own dressings. Much to my delight, it turned out to be easier and faster than I had anticipated--in fact, I discovered that if a homemade vinaigrette or dressing didn't taste quite right at first, it could be "fixed" by increasing the amount of one or more of the ingredients until I achieved the desired flavor balance. Another lesson I learned was that, while fresh herbs are often preferable, dried herbs can be used to make tasty homemade dressings. And invariably, a well-made homemade vinaigrette will blow away a mass-produced grocery store brand any day in terms of flavor--plus, you'll know exactly what's in it.

My roasted garlic vinaigrette is more than just a salad dressing: You can drizzle it over cooked vegetables or fish, mix a little of it into mashed potatoes, and even use it as a marinade and grilling sauce. In fact, we recently marinated and grilled chicken with it and the results were divine (yes, that recipe is coming soon). To save time, I buy already-peeled garlic cloves and "cheat" by using my stove-top roasted garlic instructions. Taking the time to oven-roast the garlic will impart a somewhat richer, deeper flavor to the vinaigrette, but you'll need to plan on at least 1 hour of roasting time. You can use either a Dijon mustard for a milder, more subtle mustard flavor, or a rustic whole-grain mustard for a sharper, more robust mustard flavor. As with any homemade dressing, taste after blending and adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly.

The following makes about 1 cup of dressing, which should keep a week or so in the refrigerator (we ate it all within a few days) in a tightly lidded jar. To make more or less, divide or multiply the ingredients accordingly. I use my hand blender (aka "immersion blender") to make this, but you can use a whisk, a regular blender or even a food processor for large quantities.

Salad with avocado, crunchy sprouts & roasted garlic dressing
30 cloves peeled, roasted garlic
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 to 1 1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper OR fresh-ground blend of peppercorns

Blend together all ingredients, taste for balance and add a little more of any ingredient as needed (i.e., if too tart, add more oil; if too mild, add more mustard or vinegar; if not salty enough, add more salt; etc.).

Zestfully yours,

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