Last summer, I couldn’t wait to make a gloriously colorful tomato and green bean salad that I spotted on the website of a popular women’s magazine. The photo displayed sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh green beans with an olive oil-lemon juice vinaigrette with capers, fresh mint and parsley. For some reason, however, when I made the dressing, it wasn’t quite what I had hoped.
It’s a simple enough fix, though, to prepare a different vinaigrette. Since Dan’s heart attack, we have tried to stay away from bottled dressings whenever possible. Store-bought salad dressings are typically loaded with sodium and unpronounceable ingredients.
We often use a combination of balsamic vinegar and heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil. The typical vinaigrette proportions are three parts oil to one part vinegar, but when using balsamic vinegar, I sometimes use approximately two parts oil to one part vinegar. Using this as a base, you can add whatever seasonings you prefer—crushed garlic, a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, zesty red pepper flakes, minced fresh herbs, minced shallots and more. Adding a dab of Dijon mustard helps keep the oil and vinegar combined when you mix them. To jazz up your dressing even more, try one of the many vinegar flavors now available in supermarkets or specialty stores, such as sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, fruity vinegars and others.
Signs of spring are all around us, which means summer’s bounty is just around the corner. Try your favorite assortments of fresh vegetables with a delicious array of creative vinaigrettes!