Radically Simple Cooking: Vinaigrettes Get Saucy
Our new columnist, Rozanne Gold, plays with the classic high-flavor dressing formula and takes it to salads and beyond.
Clever chefs are shaking up the salad-topping idea by using vinaigrettes as quick sauces that lend vibrancy to items other than greens. Tom Colicchio of Craft restaurant and Top Chef fame started braising fish in vinaigrette; chef and restaurateur David Burke began reducing vinaigrettes to glaze chicken and lobster; and Dan Barber at Blue Hill Farm created a warm orange vinaigrette to drizzle over fresh figs. One of the most alluring ideas comes from Chef Michel Nischan of Connecticut's Dressing Room-a three-ingredient elixir of apple cider, cider vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. It is lovely spooned over roast pork loin, drizzled atop turkey paillards-and not at all bad on a salad.
Inspired by these ideas, I began creating vinaigrettes to spoon atop my main courses. Carrot-ginger vinaigrette, made zippy with orange juice and rice vinegar, is a mouthwatering addition to seared salmon atop a tangle of bitter-edged arugula. Another vinaigrette, made from pistachios and lemon and thickened with grated Parmesan, makes simple pork chops taste brand-new.
Dessert vinaigrettes? It's an idea whose time has come. You'll love this riff on Chef Barber's slightly sweet dressing, which I toss with fresh fruit and a chiffonade of basil. It's a whole new world out there.
Crispy Salmon and Arugula Salad with Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette
1/4 cup grated carrot
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallots, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons rice vinegar, divided
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4 ounces baby arugula (about 6 cups loosely packed)
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
4 (6-ounce) fresh or frozen sustainable salmon fillets (such as wild Alaskan)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine carrot, orange juice, 1 tablespoon onion, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, honey, ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mini food processor; process 1 minute or until well combined.
2. Place arugula, tomatoes, and bell pepper in a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, and sesame oil; toss well. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add fish to pan, skin side down; cook 6 minutes or until skin is browned and crisp. Turn fish over; cook 2 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Arrange 1 1/2 cups salad on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet and 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
Rozanne Gold is a four-time James Beard award-winning chef and author of the 1-2-3 cookbook series and Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease.