Cooking is a lot like practicing medicine. There are general clinical guidelines widely available, but patients benefit from the attention paid to their individual needs. There is no one right way to do anything. So it is with vinaigrettes. Mixed baby greens need a dressing very different from endive, pears, Gorgonzola and walnuts. Arugula is best served with a simple dressing, different from a salad of spinach, Fuyu persimmons and glazed pecans.
The main variables are the acidity of the vinegar or citrus used, the quality or type of oil, and your taste. What I have learned so far is that a good starting point for the vinegar to oil ratio is about 1:4. Imported vinegars may be stronger than domestic ones requiring a ratio of 1:5 or 1:6. Lemon juice or orange juice is less acidic perhaps requiring a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio. I have read that French chefs prefer more acidic vinaigrettes. All winter long, there are ample choices available for salads at the Friday Fresh Farmers' Market. This week's recipes are the clinical guidelines to use as a starting point for making vinaigrettes in your own kitchen.
Did you know that every farmer who started with us at the Oakland Medical Center in May 2003 is still with us? We are good for them and they are good for us.
Asparagus is coming soon and, before you know it, local sweet organic strawberries from VB Farms in Watsonville will be back.