A Vinaigrette is not an emulsion

December 3rd, 2008 by katie

Gawd I am such a poser. I don’t know the difference between a vinaigrette and an emulsion-or why it matters?!-but I trust the food dictionary at epicurious.com. And if you don’t watch Top Chef then just forget I even said anything. Oh and if you don’t watch Top Chef you really should: it’s a good time.

Now that that’s out of the way. A big fat thank you to all of the food bloggers posting salads this week. All I want to eat forever right now is a big, fresh light salad. Unfortunately I can hardly fit any lettuce in the fridge right now due to the avalanche of leftover containers that threatens every time I open the door. Here is an easy, winter salad of escarole, Belgium endive, blue cheese and pecans dressed with a pear infused vinaigrette. I know, fancy pants, huh?

The dressing is a simple 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar combination but the secret is to scrounge your grocer’s vinegar section for interesting and different flavors. This dressing was olive oil and pear infused white balsamic vinegar with a little chopped shallot, mustard , and salt and pepper. Salad dressing are so mystical when staring you down from the bottle on the grocery shelf. But in real life they are simple and easy and can be made any way you like them. Oh and the connection to the whole emulsion thing? The glossy thick dressings at the store are simply the oil and vinegar emulsified into a thick sauce (hopefully, otherwise its probably just additives that make it thick-let’s not think about it) but it is a little tricky to do by hand with a whisk. Your homemade dressing will probably separate but no worries, just give it a good shake.

Basic Vinaigrette

makes 1 cup, prep 5 min
  • 1 garlic clove, minced to a paste
  • 1/4 cup vinegar, red wine or balsamic
  • 1 tsp shallot or chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarse grain mustard
  • 3/4 cup oil, olive or nut
  • salt and pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk or stir before serving.
  2. If you want to try an emulsion, combine all ingredients except oil then slowly dribble in oil while whisking steadily. Don’t be disappointed if it still separates.
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Posted in Condiments, Easy, Fast

4 Responses

  1. My First Kitchen

    I watch Top Chef, love it, and totally cracked up at the vinaigrette/emulsion argument. I think Stefan likes himself a bit too much. Do you have a favorite?

    I think I like Jamie and Fabio the most, but there are so many players right now it is easy to miss some. I think there is still a lot of weeding out to do. – Katie

  2. Tammy

    That’s the best-looking lunch I’ve seen in a while.

  3. noble pig

    Looks terrific, I’m so done with leftovers!

  4. sweetbird

    i want to put that salad in my tummy

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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