I have made salad dressing from scratch many times, but only recently have I found the secret to really good balsamic vinaigrette. The secret ingredient? Really good balsamic vinegar! Seems like a no-brainer, now that I think about it.
My sister-in-law gave us a beautiful little cruet of the good stuff for Christmas, and it has jazzed up my cooking in many ways. I sprinkle it on roasted vegetables, splash a little on fish, add it to sauces . . . but mostly I make balsamic vinaigrette for our salads with it.
Is it really different enough to make it worth spending $10+ on? Try it and see. I find that I only need a small amount and I actually like it best when combined with the cheaper grocery store brands when making my dressing. It is aged and has a rich, sweet flavor – mmmm! The brand I have is Guiseppi Giusti, but you can also find interesting options at specialty gourmet stores.
If you have a chance, stop in The Oilerie in Brookfield. It has a wide variety of top quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The best part about the experience is they allow you to sample them!
Here is my simple recipe for a basic salad dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. gourmet aged balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together with a wire whisk or put into a jar with a cover and shake well. Pour over your favorite green salad. Also delicious on roasted vegetables.