Yesterday, I wrote about winter salads and in that post I mentioned using a robust dressing…one that can stand up to the bulky textures and flavors of cabbages and kale.
To follow up on that note, I decided to write about making a basic food processor vinaigrette in today’s post. Admittedly, I use bottled dressings in my kitchen. They add incredible convenience and if I choose carefully, they add flavor without a ton of fat. (I prefer the nonfat balsamic dressing from Trader Joe’s.)
However, there are many days when I make my own vinaigrette and without a doubt my trusty Cuisinart food processor or mini chopper is the tool for the task. Whisking the mixture in a bowl can do the trick but I find that my food processor lightens my dicing load and blends everything together beautifully. I also like making my own vinaigrette because it saves me money and lets me tweak to my preference.
The basic approach is to use one part vinegar (or acid) to three parts oil. It’s then important to add an emulsifier, or blending agent, like mustard or garlic to hold the mixture together. I vary my vinaigrettes seasonally. In the summer when I make a rice and black bean salad, I make a garlic, cilantro and cumin-laced dressing. For those days when I am craving classic French salads, I make a tarragon shallot vinaigrette. Right now, because my garden is producing winter cabbages and kale, I am making hearty salads and reaching for robust vinaigrettes.
This morning, I made one of my favorites–a Curry Cilantro Vinaigrette. Using fresh ginger, lime, cilantro and curry powder, this concoction brings the warm flavors of curry and ginger to big bowls of crunchy seasonal produce. Here’s the recipe. Feel free to tweak it to your taste:
Curry Cilantro Vinaigrette
one 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peel and chopped into chunks
2 teaspoons curry powder
juice of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems included
In a mini chopper fitted with the metal blade, put the ginger root, curry powder, lime juice, and honey. Blend for 30 seconds to chop the ginger root and combine the ingredients. Add the oils and the salt and process for 30 seconds to combine. Add the cilantro and process for another 15 t0 20 seconds to chop the cilantro. Transfer to a small jar and keep refrigerated. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Note: When using this vinaigrette, use a big bowl, toss well, add toasted seeds or nuts to the mix and toss in fresh seasonal fruit or a little cheese if that suits your taste.