Kitchen Kung-Fu: Emulsified Salad Dressings
Throughout the winter months, I definitely crave soups and casseroles and other warm, cozy dishes. Yet even when it’s snowing outside, I still can’t kick my salad habit. To give the fresh quadrant of my plate a cold-weather update, I shift to sturdier winter greens, and I like to trade in my light vinaigrettes for something with a little more heft, and a homemade emulsified salad dressing does the trick.
An emulsion is simply a blend of two liquids that don’t normally bind together, such as oil and vinegar. In a standard salad-dressing blend, the vinegar sinks to the bottom and oil rises to the top, creating a thin, watery texture. Emulsified dressings, on the other hand, are thick and creamy and really cling to your veggies. To get the at-odds ingredients to mingle and develop that substantive consistency, you’ve got to break down the fat molecules and let the acid in. You do this by adding the oil to the vinegar or other liquid in a slow and steady stream while furiously beating with a whisk or blender.
Another trick to getting your dressing to emulsify is to add a third ingredient that acts as a helper. Mustard is the classic French addition, but you could also experiment with miso or even agave nectar, depending on whether your palate leans toward saltier or sweeter flavors. This basic dressing recipe, which features Dijon mustard and subtly sweet balsamic vinegar, gives greens a creamy kick that tastes great all year round.
- 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs. whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- ¼ tsp. salt, optional
Whisk together vinegar and mustard in bowl. Whisk in oil until dressing is emulsified and smooth. Season with salt, if using.
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in recreating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.