Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

Homemade vinaigrettes are easy to make and much better than their bottled counterparts. Here’s what we discovered:

Tasters preferred dressing made with regular olive oil; it added more flavor than canola and vegetable oils, but didn’t overpower the herbs the way extra virgin olive oil did. Mixing our vinaigrette in the blender helped to extract the herbs’ flavors. Basil is not as potent as other herbs, so you will need to use an entire bunch.

Secrets to Big Herb Flavor
1. Heating fresh herbs in olive oil creates an herb-infused oil that offers a good foundation for our dressing.
2. Making the dressing in a blender (and adding more fresh herbs) extracts every bit of flavor from the herbs.

Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
Makes enough to dress 8 cups of greens

3/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh basil
1 shallot , peeled
1 clove garlic clove , peeled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1. Heat 1/4 cup oil with 1 cup basil in medium saucepan over medium heat until basil turns bright green and small bubbles appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat and steep 5 minutes.

2. Process shallot, garlic, vinegar, water, salt, pepper, and mustard in blender until garlic and shallot are finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With blender running, slowly add remaining oil and steeped basil oil and continue to process until dressing is smooth and emulsified, about 15 seconds. Pack remaining basil into blender and process until dressing is smooth, about 15 seconds. (Dressing can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Recipe from an America's Test Kitchen e-mail newsletter.

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