Published: 04/07/2015 - Updated: 04/01/2017
Vinaigrettes are at the heart of salads. These wonderful dressings are generally made with three parts oil per one part vinaigrette, and they’re what’s responsible for giving salads that tart flavor that contrasts so well with vegetables chosen for salads, especially lettuce. They also add interesting properties from both primary dietary ingredients, plus the spices that can also be added to the vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes are easy sauces to prepare, and they can be fun to make rather than buying one that was previously prepared. This will let you adjust the taste to make whatever you like best, providing the properties you’d like to include according to the ingredients you choose. Vinaigrettes could also be a lower calorie option compared to other dressings, especially creamy ones like Ranch, or dressings prepared with mayonnaise. These generally also contain a lot of sugars as well.
Vinegar is high in acetic acid as a byproduct of the alcohol fermentation. Even though alcohol has antibacterial properties, vinaigrettes properties are even greater because some bacteria can still survive in alcohol (some of which are even used to make vinaigrette), but they don’t survive in vinegar. That’s why over the centuries, vinegar has been so popular for preserving meat and vegetables. Although it has hardly no nutritional value, no vitamins nor minerals, when combined with a delicious, varied salad, this lack of nutrients is easily compensated for. It also seems to have blood sugar-reducing benefits and also stabilizes cholesterol levels, which could be beneficial for someone with diabetes or cholesterol problems. It’s worth it, however, to ask if there are any contraindications with any of the medications you may be taking.
Oils, on the other hand, provide the necessary daily fats that salads don’t readily provide unless adding some sort of avocado or other fatty vegetable. Of course, when referring to oil in salads, we’re talking about vegetable oils, especially those that have more unsaturated fats than saturated fats. This will help keep your heart healthy and your energy consumption slow.
Some of the most popular vinegars come from white wine, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, all of which have the previously mentioned properties, but differ in flavor and price. Your choice between these ingredients will be based on your palate and your monthly budget. All of them are low in calories, some vinegars, like balsamic vinegar (especially high quality), adds a great flavor by itself in salads. The flavor is quite unique, and just one tablespoon of vinegar only adds 14 calories.
For vinaigrettes in more popular oils, like olive oil, they contain approximately 74% monounsaturated fats, 8% polyunsaturated fats, and only 13% saturated fats, although corn oil isn’t too far behind it nutritionally. In taste, however, it is quite different. It contains 68% polyunsaturated fats, 24% monounsaturated fats, and the same percentage of saturated fats as olive oil. Consuming high quality oils, like olive oil, helps reduce the possibilities of having cardiac complications and for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels in blood.
And we still haven’t talked about the spices you can add to your vinaigrettes, which could provide even more valuable compounds or nutrients that are lacking in oil and vinegar. These could be wonderful complements to your already nutritious salad vegetables, including garlic, chili peppers, onion, rosemary, pepper, shallots, and a long list of etc. There are no set rules for what your vinaigrette should contain. And remember, vinaigrettes by themselves aren’t an important food, but they can be a healthy companion that can bring a smile to your face at every meal.
And lastly, I’m going to share a basic vinaigrette recipe with you that you could even change a bit according to your own imagination. To make it you will need: 2 tablespoons of vinegar (your choice), 6 tablespoons of olive oil (although you could use others), salt to taste, and a pinch of pepper, ½ tsp. of minced garlic. For the last step, just blend all the ingredients for as long as it takes to properly mix everything into the desired consistency. You can experiment with the spices you use with this oil and vinegar base, to find whichever taste you like best. Remember to dry your vegetables well before serving them with the vinaigrette, or else the water will repel the oil.