Dear Lisa: I would like to make my own vinaigrette dressings and am wondering what proportion of vinegar-to-oil is best?
I've tried half and half, but the flavor is too strong. Any suggestions? -- Brian, College Station.
Dear Brian: The classic proportions for vinaigrette are 1 part vinegar (or another acid, such as lemon juice), to 3 parts oil. This proportion makes a robust dressing that is best suited to substantial greens such as romaine, or used as a meat or vegetable marinade. For a lighter dressing, use 1 part vinegar to 4 parts oil. This combination will work well on more delicate salads.
If you want to feature a highly flavored oil, you can increase the proportion to 1 part acid to 6 parts oil.
Keep in mind that not all acids are equal when it comes to creating a flavor balance. Cider and white vinegars and lemon and lime juices are the most sharp in flavor, while rice and balsamic vinegars are more mild.
When you perfect your formula, you can embellish it with some lovely variations.
To make a creamy vinaigrette, substitute cream, buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt for the oil.
Or add crumbled blue, feta or grated Parmesan for a cheesy dressing.
* Lisa Fritz, a longtime Bryan food and nutrition educator, answers readers' questions about food, cooking and recipes. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.