A good, puckery vinaigrette has a ratio behind it: three parts oil to one part acid. Acid can take the form of vinegar or citrus juice. "Once you understand that, you got this," says chef Hugh Acheson. "Add whatever you want. Go flavor-crazy. Shake that jar. Work those forearms." If you make too much, it will keep in the fridge for seven to 10 days in a sealed container.
Melissa Rubel Jacobson says the easiest way to peel fresh ginger for this punchy Asian-inspired vinaigrette is to scrape it with the edge of a spoon. She then grates it on a Microplane zester (other fine graters work well, too) before using it in the dressing. The vinaigrette matches especially well with cabbage slaw, Chinese chicken salad, mixed green salad, grilled eggplant or tuna, and summer rolls.
Soaking shallot slices in vinegar makes them deliciously pickle-like. For a tarter flavor, let the shallots soak for up to 2 hours. The vinaigrette goes well with a cucumber salad, sliced tomatoes, pasta salad, steak salad, steamed asparagus or green beans.
Instead of tossing chunks of feta into her salad or crumbling the cheese on top of cooked vegetables, Melissa Rubel Jacobson purees it right into a vinaigrette. This makes the dressing smooth and luscious and ensures a little bit of tang in almost every bite.
Blue cheese dressing doesn't have to be the gunk served with chicken wings at dive bars. Melissa Rubel Jacobson makes her splendid, refined version with red wine vinegar and plenty of fresh tarragon. It is great with a hearty green or tomato salad.