Last night, I tried out a new way to make vinaigrette. It included Alice Waters’ process of macerating a clove of garlic with salt in a mortar and pestle before adding vinegar and oil. Here’s the recipe with tweaking suggestions. It’s a combination of Alice Waters’ garlic process and my own vinaigrette ingredients.
Its success depends on tweaking the amount of vinegars, sugar and garlic – the macerated garlic tends to make it a little bitter, I think.
1. Peel a good sized clove of garlic. cut into pieces to make pounding it easier.
2. In a mortar with a pestle, scrape and press the garlic with 2-3 pinches of Maldon salt (sea salt) until the garlic is pureed.
This is not as easy as it sounds and I’m thinking you could do it in a small food processor too.
3. Add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons Marukan gourmet seasoned Japanese vinegar.
4. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined.
5. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of Poupon Dijon country mustard
6. Add cracked pepper and zest/juice of a wedge of fresh lemon to taste.
Now, you’ve got the basics and the tweaking begins – let it sit for a few minutes, whisk it again and dip a leaf of lettuce in it.
If it’s too bitter, I added more Marukan vinegar and more lemon. If it’s too sour, add a dab more sugar.
It’s very important to empty your greens into a salad spinner and soak it in very cold water. Rinse well and spin it thoroughly. Then store the spun greens in the fridge. This cleaning and rinsing step provides a freshness and the cold air a crispiness to the greens. Doing this ahead of time makes it so much easier to put the salad together when dinner is ready.
I like to keep a salad simple without too many ingredients since the dressing is complex. A handful of fresh thyme, basil cut up in strips goes with anything you want to include: fresh tomatoes, cucumber, red onion.
If I’m making a salad with fruit (fresh orange sections or pears with or without pomegranate seeds) I would omit the garlic macerating step and just make the vinaigrette with some chopped up garlic pieces marinating in the dressing ahead of time. The vinaigrette keeps in the fridge and also at room temperature if it’s not too hot.