Salad Made Special...and Easy

If you're still buying bottled vinaigrette, make a resolution for 2009 to start making your own dressing. One of the easiest ways to make it taste special is to use a flavored oil - walnut, pistachio, and hazelnut are all good choices. Making vinaigrette couldn't be simpler: add one part vinegar to either 2 or 3 parts oil (I like mine with more vinegar snap but some people prefer it toned down), throw in a dollop (teaspoon) of Dijon mustard, some salt and pepper and shake well in a covered container. A simple vinaigrette like this with no other ingredients will last for 6 months or longer in your refrigerator.

Another great addition to a salad is a little crunch. I am partial to pine nuts, but the secret to making them taste great is to toast them lightly in a dry skillet before you add them to your salad. In fact, most nuts benefit from a quick dry toasting as it brings out the flavor from the oils in the nuts and you can't beat the wonderful aroma.

Go ahead - make a salad tonight with your own vinaigrette. Pick an oil, then pick a vinegar or other acid (red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, lemon juice) and I promise you'll never return to bottled again!

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