| At its core vinaigrette is a ratio of an acidic liquid, blended with fat. I believe it's supposed to additionally be emulsified, but I've worked in countless restaurants with non-emulsified vinaigrettes. ("Emulsified" means that the oil and fat were blended into a single slightly thicker, creamier liquid) No one ever complained that their vinaigrette wasn't emulsified.|
The standard ratio is 3 parts oil to one part vinegar. A very standard red wine vinaigrette, for example, one would whisk together 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a touch of salt and pepper. This would yield 1/4 cup of "red wine vinaigrette".
There are upteen bajillions of different vinegars. Go to the grocery store and look at the vinegars and fats. You could purchase a strawberry infused balsamic vinegar and whisk it into a walnut oil, for example. This would give a far more complex taste sensation, but we're still dealing with only a very basic ratio. Are we cooking, yet?
We don't necessarily need to stop there! Lemon juice is also a very acidic liquid, much like vinegar. Oils aren't the only fats, either. Whisking 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice into 3 tablespoons of warm bacon fat and tossed onto a spinach salad would be outstanding!
3 parts fat ... to 1 part acidic liquid (this is generally true, but I personally tend to do 2 to 1 for lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, which are less aggressive ... this for me is a personal preference. I tend to like acidity).
Armed with this very basic ratio, you can start really branching out and layering flavors. Imagine taking 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and whisking them together with another tablespoon of warm goose fat. Now, start whisking in some finely diced shallots, 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard, 1 tsp of diced capers and some fresh thyme. Try brushing this onto a bunch of vegetables, before throwing them on the grill. YUMM-O!
Now, we can try another direction ... let's take light champagne vinegar, add a little sugar-free honey, some light oil, a few diced sweet onions and fresh tarragon. Try that on a delicate salad with some grilled shrimp and a few toasted hazelnuts.
We're cooking now!