Jan Roberts-Dominguez's Amazing Vinaigrettes

By AM Northwest Staff

Jan Roberts-Dominguez’s Amazing Vinaigrette Base

You know the biggest problem with homemade vinaigrettes? We store them in the refrigerator to keep all the herbs and garlic fresh, but when you go to use them - if you haven’t thought ahead and removed the vinaigrette from the fridge - the olive oil is thick and gunky until it gets up to room temperature. So...I’ve developed this amazing "salad helper." It’s a vinaigrette base made from red wine vinegar with gobs of minced garlic, lots of fresh-ground peppercorns, salt, and a pinch of sugar. Store THIS mixture in the refrigerator and keep the olive oil in the pantry at room temperature. Then...when you’re ready to toss the evening salad, just glug some of the zesty vinaigrette base over the salad greens with an equal glug of your room-temp olive oil and you’ve got a tossed-green in no time.

Make enough vinaigrette base to create at least 6 cups of vinaigrette (that’s a ratio of 1 part vinaigrette base to 1 part olive oil; some people prefer an oilier vinaigrette, in which case, your vinaigrette base will make considerably more vinaigrette.

 3 cups red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic (6 large cloves)

1-3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl (preferably one with a pouring spout). Select a 3- to 4-cup capacity bottle or jar with a screw-top lid (consider using empty liquor or water bottles). Pour the prepared vinegar mixture through a funnel into the bottle and store in the refrigerator.

To prepare vinaigrette as needed, whisk together desired amounts of the vinegar base with good quality olive oil. You can either do this right in the salad bowl and toss with the salad ingredients, or you can whisk a small amount in a separate cup then drizzle over your salad before tossing.

Copyright, Jan Roberts-Dominguez, 2008

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Spin-off from Jan Roberts-Dominguez Amazing Vinaigrette Base

My husband, Steve loved the House Dressing at Burton's in downtown Corvallis. They never gave him their recipe (he never had the temerity to ask), but he just kept tasting and testing in our kitchen until he believed he achieved success. It’s truly wonderful. So once I created my Amazing Vinaigrette Base, I knew that working out a recipe for Steve’s blue cheese dressing would be a wonderful spin-off.

1 cup diced (1/4-inch cubes) red onion

4 to 6 ounces (or more!) of your favorite blue cheese, more as needed

About 2/3 cup Jan’s Amazing Vinaigrette Base, more as needed

About 1/3 cup canola or safflower oil, more as needed

About 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the onions in a bowl. Crumble in about 4 ounces of the blue cheese, then gently stir in the vinegar and vegetable oil. At this point, you may have to add additional oil, vinegar, or blue cheese to reach a consistency that hovers between a vinaigrette and a creamy dressing. Steve prefers a higher ratio of blue cheese, so he inevitably adds more at this point (which usually translates into another trip to the store), whereas I prefer it to have more vinegary.

Now add the pepper. It may seem like a lot, but it really is delicious. The dressing should be prepared the night before serving, so the onions have a chance to marinate. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks - as long as Steve doesn't live nearby. Yields about 2-1/2 cups dressing.

Jan’s Broccoli Salad

This is the spin-off salad food writer Jan Roberts-Dominguez made on Monday’s show using her Amazing Vinaigrette Base

1/4 pound bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

4 to 5 cups of fresh broccoli florets (cut the florets into bite-sized pieces of about 1/2-inch in size)

1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

1 batch of the Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Spin-off (from Jan Roberts-Dominguez Amazing Vinaigrette Base; see previous recipe)

In a medium-sized skillet, over medium heat, slowly brown the bacon until all of the pieces are crisp and golden; remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Place the broccoli in a pretty salad bowl. Add the dried cranberries or dried cherries and the bacon. Toss to mix the ingredients. Spoon on the Blue Cheese Vinaigrette and toss again to evenly coat the broccoli. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 2 or 3 hours.

NOTE: On the show, I substituted chopped sweet onions for the red onions that are called for in the Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. Either type of onion works great.

Copyright, Jan Roberts-Dominguez, 2008

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