As far as holiday gifts are concerned, I believe homemade foods are the only way to go. They are economical, from the heart and fun to enjoy together. I give a jar of basic tangy vinaigrette every year, to the delight and impress of many friends. Little do they know how easy it is to assemble. I usually have everything on hand to whip up a few jars!
Making vinaigrette was my first job in the kitchen, as my parents prepared weekday dinners. It's such a simple and delicious task, I wonder why so many people buy it already made. Not only are the grocery store dressings expensive, they are often filled with additives and chemicals. If you have a spare moment, you can assemble a nice dressing yourself. The basics are olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and whatever other ingredients look fresh and spark your interest— fresh herbs, honey, garlic, chilies, lime juice, diced shallots, soy sauce, and mayonnaise will all add flavor and dimension to your dressings.
My favorite vinaigrette is very simple. It's elegant and has a French bistro flair. It also makes a nice marinade for tofu. It's flavor is bright and tangy, I use more vinegar than most recipes call for, everyone I've served or given it to has enjoyed it.
To Assemble as Gifts, You'll Need:
• spice jars or small condiment jars, cleaned and dried
• parchment paper, cut into circles slightly larger than your jar lids
• twine for tying the paper to the jar
makes about 2 cups, enough for about 4 small jars
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustart
2 teaspoons honey
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl until dressing is emulsified. Pour through a funnel into small jars. Wrap with a circle of parchment paper and twine. Refrigerate.
Related: Summer Recipe: Honey Pepper Vinaigrette
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)