• Rethinking Vinaigrettes, Basic and Beyond

    When you're ready to dress a salad, you need a fluid vinaigrette to coat the greens evenly. But if you're keeping the vinaigrette chilled, fluidity can be an issue. Some culinary oils get thick and stodgy in the fridge, so you have to wait for vinaigrettes made with them to warm before use. Not the case with vinaigrettes made with canola oil; they remain pourable even when cold, so you can have maximum longevity along with convenience.

    And if you are enhancing your vinaigrette with herbs, spices or citrus zest, you can count on canola oil to let your creativity shine through. Its mild taste won't overwhelm your aromatics.

    The classic French vinaigrette marries oil with wine vinegar, usually in the ratio of 3:1. Choose red or white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Or make a "citronette" by substituting lemon or orange juice. Add salt and pepper, of course. Perhaps a minced shallot or some Dijon mustard. Or both. Whisk well and store in the fridge. 

    While you're at it, make enough vinaigrette for a week so it is ready when you are. You'll eat more salads — always a good idea — if the dressing is pre-made. And you'll save money while boosting flavor by ditching bottled dressings, those gummy concoctions filled with stabilizers and tired dried seasonings. Canola oil yields vinaigrettes that are light in texture and don't weigh down the delicate salad greens that are so popular today.

    If you're trying to cut back on fat, adjust the oil-to-vinegar ratio to 2:1. In many instances, such as when dressing potatoes or beets, a tarter vinaigrette is desirable.

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    Watch Chef Almir Da Fonseca make a tangy Gribiche Dressing for Smoked Yukon Gold Potato Salad

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    You can create original vinaigrettes with more sophisticated techniques, like the reduction method Chef Almir uses to make Crab Cakes With Warm Black Truffle Vinaigrette.

    Vinaigrettes make great marinades, too. Whisk up a marinade for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin with canola oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and tarragon. Just a couple of hours in a marinade, refrigerated, will provide a flavor boost when you grill or broil the meat. No sauce necessary.
    Look to canola oil, too, when making flavored oils infused with basil, garlic, ginger, peppers or any other fresh herbs or produce. These oils add contemporary style to dishes and they are easy to make in a home or restaurant kitchen. But for food safety reasons, they MUST be made safely and kept refrigerated. Prepared with canola oil, your flavored oils will flow freely even when chilled. And canola's mild taste won't mask the featured flavors.