For the Best Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, Add a Touch of Vanilla Extract
How many homemade salad dressings have you whipped up in the past year? If you're anything like me, the answer is more batches than Carter's got pills. During these quarantine times amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic we've pretty much earned an honorary degree in the Art of Salads. From discovering our favorite unexpected ingredient (gomasio a.k.a a seasoning blend with sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and salt, for the win!) to mastering the art of grilling romaine, we've taken many a blah weeknight-salad in new and flavor-packed directions.
That's why we were so excited to learn this genius tip that can take any old homemade vinaigrette salad dressing to new and delectable heights: Add a bit of vanilla extract. It may sound a tad bizarre, but as Claire Lower wrote for LifeHacker, "a little vanilla softens acidity, accentuates sweetness, and just makes things taste better." Lower also suggested that such salad dressings pair best with recipes that either have ingredients on the sweeter side (say, blueberries or roasted red peppers) or very salty foods like a pungent cheese or olives.
To start, try about a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract in your favorite vinaigrette recipes and go up from there if you like how the dressing tastes. As a rule of thumb, less is more when it comes to a vinaigrette, so keep things simple and don't get carried away with ingredients, especially if you're going to give your salad dressing the rich flavor note of vanilla. These days, I'm loving vnlla Extract Co.'s Pure Vanilla Extract (Buy It: $14.99; Amazon.com).
Have you ever tried adding vanilla extract to salad dressings? If so, what did you think? If you've got any other secret ingredients you add into your vinaigrette salad dressing, we're all ears and whisks.