There’s something so refreshing about a vinaigrette — especially when the weather starts to warm up. As the days get longer and the temperatures start to rise, our eating habits change too. Gone are the thick sauces and heavy stocks, as we opt instead for small squirts of citrus, freshly chopped herbs and smokey dry rubs.
I happen to have a fondness for warm vinaigrettes. There’s nothing wrong with a room temperature vinaigrette on a salad, but when I’m at the grill or doing a quick pan saute, I like to finish with a warm vinaigrette. In my opinion, a little bit of heat intensifies the flavor of the vinaigrette, which means you can use less and taste more.
A basic vinaigrette is an emulsion of acid and fat. Most of us know and love olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but if you’re feeling more experimental, use ingredients like freshly squeezed fruits, spicy mustards, creamy butter, chopped herbs, sweet preserves or tangy shallots. For a warm vinaigrette, I like to start with a hot pan (preferably the one that you cooked your proteins in) and your chosen fat (for me, that’s typically olive oil). I like to create an infused oil, adding chopped herbs or fruit zest to warm oil so it really takes on the flavor of the featured ingredient. I take the infused oil off the heat and let it cool. Then I whisk the warm oil with freshly squeezed fruit juice or vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and immediately brush it onto grilled vegetables or chicken. Just a little goes a long way — and it really makes a splash on your tastebuds!
Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
1 cup olive oil
2 lemons, zested and juice reserved
Salt and White Pepper to taste
- In a warm pan, heat the olive oil. Add the tarragon and lemon zest and remove from heat. Allow the ingredients to infuse the oil as well as cool down, about 10 minutes.
- With a reamer or similar juicing tool, add the juice from the lemons. Use a whisk or jar to shake and create a creamy emulsion. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Use on grilled poultry or vegetables.