Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Vinaigrettes-How do I learn to like them?

12-28-2009, 11:15 AM
I have always been a creamy salad dressing kind of gal. I know vinaigrettes are so much better for you. How do I learn to like them? I am not a vinegar fan, so I am sure this is going to take some doing. Any suggestions? Is there one kind that is better tasting than another?

12-28-2009, 11:22 AM
I've never really tired a balsamic vinaigrette, but i LOVE fat free Italian, the kind I get is only 10 calories per 2 tbsp.
I've always liked tangy sauces and vinegar though :/
Perhaps just putting enough dressing on to taste, not too much will help.

12-28-2009, 11:36 AM
Or make your own. You don't have to use vinegar, you can use any acid - lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice ... And any spices that suit your fancy. I particularly like lime juice with cumin and chipotle powder. I make it for the week and put it in a container I can shake up, then shake well before each use.

12-28-2009, 11:54 AM
I've always loved vinaigrettes, but hubby is a creamy dressing fan. Converting him has been only partially successful. Except for the few (homemade only) vinaigrettes that he does like, mostly he chooses light creamy dressings instead, or uses regular ranch (just far less of it).

There are several dressing tricks you can try.

Thin your favorite creamy dressing with vinegar (I suggest rice wine or champagne vinegars, as they are milder and less acidic), skim milk, low-fat buttermilk, lemon or other fruit juice or even water. Some flavor combinations work better than others, for example low-fat buttermilk works very well to dilute ranch dressing.

Some creamy dressings are creamy vinaigrettes, you may be able to use as "transitional" dressings. They're not low in calorie, but if you like them, the tartness of vinaigrettes may begin to appeal to you more. Creamy italian and Ceasar dressings come to mind. If you like them, then start mixing with a little vinegar or lemon/lime juice as a thinner and increase the amount of thinning liquid each time.

If you're using bottled dressings, don't thin in the bottle. Thin in the salad bowl, or in a small container, making just enough for one meal or two. This way you won't ruin the entire bottle if a thinning experiment doesn't taste good to you - also by adding ingredients (depending on the ingredient) to the bottle, you can change a dressing's shelf-life.

12-28-2009, 01:35 PM
I usually prefer a vinaigrette too. I don't know how you feel about fats, but I have never tried a diet vinaigrette that I could stand more than one bite of, and really, hardly any commercial (nondiet) vinaigrettes that I really care for. They're so easy to make, you can google many, many recipes. Start simple, then try some variations. Sometimes making sure to add a little salt makes a difference.

A traditional vinaigrette has more oil than vinegar. Vinaigrette recipes aimed at dieters tend to try to shift that ratio to vinegar, which may be why you think of a vinaigrette as so vinegary. Maybe try something more traditional while you are acquiring a taste for it. You can also sub some vegetable broth for some oil to reduce fat without increasing the vinegar.

12-28-2009, 04:28 PM
It's also easier to "back down" the vinegar, rather than suddenly reverse preference. It's why I think the dilution principle works so well - if you do it gradually enough, you don't notice the difference nearly as much.

I love rice wine vinegars and champagne vinegars, or lemon or lime juice as the acid, because they're less harsh. With cider or red wine vinegar, I can only reduce the oil so much before the dressing becomes too acidic for my taste (half and half is about the best I can do). However, a good rice wine vinegar (sometimes called rice vinegar) is mild enough that I don't mind reducing or even eliminating the oil (though I wouldn't recommend anyone new to vinaigrettes start there).

Another tricdk I've found for using less dressing is to put my salad ingredients in a sealable container (a ziploc bag or a tupperware dish) and SHAKE with the salad dressing. The leaves get coated better and more evenly, so I can use a lot less. I'd rather use a small amount of a GOOD dressing than a large amount of a mediocre one (and I'm not going anywhere near a terrible one).

Sadly most of the light and low-cal dressings fall in the terrible category. So, I mostly make my own. There are tons of great recipes online, but they mostly make enough dressing for a dozen salads. I've learned to make salad dressings in single salad-sized batches (luckily with most dressings precise measures aren't necessary, splash and dash experiments work fine).

In a Dollar Tree store I found little tupperware-style containers that are only hold 2 oz (about 4 tbls) - these are perfect for mixing single-serving dressings (great for transporting to restaurants too - but always seal them inside a ziploc bag as a precaution against leaks. Salad dressing leaking into your purse or pocket, is not fun).

12-28-2009, 08:32 PM
The other week, I got a workplace cafeteria salad and forgot to pick up my favorite creamy dressing. Yikes! There I was at the table slightly panicking at the thought of eating a bare salad. But ... surprise, it wasn't half bad. I could actually taste the veggies for a change. So, with that positive experience under my belt, I've been trying to opt for vinaigrette more often, too.

What about trying a spray-on version? (It makes the sharpness less shocking.) You might also want to add a mild, creamy ingredient like avocado slices to your salad to balance out the vinegar. And, piggybacking on other ideas here, you can buy lemon juice in small tearable packets to make your own dressing concoction on the spot.

Jennifer 3FC
12-29-2009, 09:43 AM
Keep trying different brands, or make your own (olive oil and fresh lemon juice with some rosemary or basil is nice). I don't like most of the dressings in the store. My favorite bottled brand is Earth and Vine, Honey Pear Vinaigrette. Soooooo good, and totally natural. The main ingredient is pear puree. It's 50 calories for 2T. Wild Thymes also makes some nice ones that are also light.