Published July 1, 1996.
A high ratio of oil to vinegar softens the harshness of supermarket vinegars and creates a foolproof emulsion in just seconds.
There is a lot of bad salad dressing on the supermarket shelves. To make it at home, we grab a cookbook off the shelf, but the instructions look tricky--do we really have to mash garlic with a fork and then beat in vinegar and a thin stream of olive oil? Or worse, we are told just to mix oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper "to taste." Whose taste? Vague recipe instructions are no guarantee of success.
For our salad dressings, we wanted to emphasize the flavor of olive oil, enhanced but not upstaged by the other ingredients. We particularly wanted to avoid nose-burning excesses of vinegar or garlic.
The correct ratio of oil to vinegar in vinaigrettes is much discussed. In our own tastings, preferences among tasters varied from 2.5:1 to 4.5:1. We concluded that the oil and vinegar we were using as standards (Heinz Gourmet Fine Wine Vinegar and Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil) satisfied most tastes when used at a ratio of 4:1. At that ratio, neither ingredient predominates, and you get a smooth, fine-tasting mixture that is neither harsh nor greasy.list of recipes