How to think beyond the vinaigrette when using vinegar in your salads
It won't surprise you that we at the Artisan Vinegar Company think that good vinegar goes with pretty much anything. (Not vanilla ice cream, you say? Challenge accepted.) Thus, I've decided to write one vinegar recipe per day this week — just to show the myriad uses of this wonderful sour liquid. Enter Day 4.
The quintessential salad dressing, oil and vinegar, is really all about the vinegar — that's why they call it vinaigrette, the diminutive of French "vinaigre". All you need is some decent oil, some even more decent vinegar, a pinch of salt, and whatever other seasonings your heart desires (or none), and you're ready to dress. Traditionally, the ratio of oil to vinegar is something like 4:1 or 3:1, but I like to up the vinegar content (surprise, surprise).
That said, there are so many more ways to put vinegar and salad together. One trick I use all the time is marinated onions. Think of how many marinades are essentially vinaigrettes. Now, instead of meat, try marinading thinly sliced red or white onions in just enough vinegar to cover them, stirring occasionally to coat. After half an hour (longer is fine), you'll have delightfully mellow quick-pickled onions that will add a pop of crunchy brightness to your leaves. A fruit vinegar like Artisan Damson & Sloe Vinegar is ideal for this.
Another way to use vinegar in a salad is to first oven-roast some sliced or chopped vegetables for your salad with vinegar, oil, and seasoning. This works especially well with sweet vinegars like Artisan Raspberry Vinegar, as the sugars help the vegetables caramelise. These veggies, when leftover, cold, and glistening with their vinegar glaze, are excellent tossed through a salad to give it depth, textural contrast, and mediterranean flair.
Finally, ever thought of pickling a raisin? Shredded vegetable salads like carrot salad or creamy coleslaw are particularly good with the chewy sweetness of raisins sprinkled throughout, but you can elevate these little wrinkled grapes by pickling them in vinegar first. Proceed much as with the onions for a quick version, or cook a simple vinegar syrup with 2 parts Artisan Cider Vinegar and 1 part sugar, as well as any seasonings you like (try coriander seeds, fennel seeds, or chilli flakes, perhaps), and then pour this over the raisins before allowing them to cool to room temperature.
– Beatrix Swanson