Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alice Water's Vinaigrette

Last night my sister took me to the preview party for Slow Food Nation in San Francisco. There we met famed chef and slow food pioneer Alice Waters. Her restaurant, Chez Panisse, has been practicing her local and sustainable preach for over 25 years. Cooking segments are being taped in the Green Kitchen, a small studio in the convention hall, to be posted on You Tube shortly after the event wraps. The idea is to show viewers how to cook and knowing your ingredients. Fresh food is best left simple. See for yourself in Alice's cookbook, The Art of Simple Food.

This is the recipe she shared with us that you can find in her book:

Alice Water's Vinaigrette

• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• Salt
• Fresh-ground black pepper
• 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

This is the sauce I make most often, and if it’s made out of good olive oil and good wine vinegar, it’s the best salad dressing I can imagine. At its simplest, vinaigrette is a mixture of vinegar and oil in a ratio of 1 part vinegar to about 3 or 4 parts oil. Start by estimating roughly how much vinaigrette you will need. This depends on what you’re using it for; a quarter cup is more than enough for four servings of green salad, for example, but you really never need to measure out exact amounts. Start by pouring the vinegar into a bowl. Dissolve a pinch of salt in it and taste for balance. The salt has a real relationship with the vinegar. When you add just enough salt, it subdues the acid of the vinegar and brings it into a wonderful balance. Try adding salt bit by bit and tasting to see what happens. How much salt is too much? How much is too little? What tastes best? If you add too much salt, just add a touch more vinegar.

Grind in some black pepper and whisk in the oil. The vinaigrette should taste brightly balanced, neither too oily nor overly acidic. Adjust the sauce, adding more vinegar if you’ve added too much oil, and more salt, if it needs it.


No comments: