Basil Vinaigrette

Basil Vinaigrette — This fresh-tasting vinaigrette is a streamlined option to pesto that can be used in much the same way.  Once you have a jar in your refrigerator, it will perk up all sorts of meals in the week ahead!

Fresh-tasting Basil Vinaigrette is a streamlined option to pesto that can be used in much the same way.  Once you have a jar in your refrigerator, it will perk up all sorts of meals in the week ahead!

 

Easy.  Healthy. Delicious.  Ideally, those three words would accurately describe all of our home-cooked meals.

As such, the rewarding return on cooking those meals would far outweigh the modest investment, making meal prep a true pleasure.

Of course, busy schedules often mean the daily reality is somewhat more complicated, so I’m constantly pondering new ways to streamline, facilitate, and cut corners without sacrificing flavor and nutritional appeal.

In our quest to pull off effortlessly delicious meals, we’ve all heard the recommendations to keep a well-stocked pantry and lean on fresh, seasonal ingredients, but I find this advice to be far more helpful if I take one step back.

When I think about what really helps me pull off an “effortless” meal, two words come to mind: component cooking.  This term refers to making a big batch of something to use in a variety of ways throughout the week.  A truly useful component should be loaded with flavor (to perk up those pantry staples) and highly versatile (so we’re not eating the same thing all week!).

Homemade sauces and dressings are among my most relied upon components. Their ingredient list is easy to control, and their flavor often trumps store-bought options for a fraction of the cost.

The following recipe is an ideal way to enjoy an abundance of garden fresh basil and can be thought of as a more streamlined, dressing-like alternative to pesto.

Basil Vinaigrette — This fresh-tasting vinaigrette is a streamlined option to pesto that can be used in much the same way.  Once you have a jar in your refrigerator, it will perk up all sorts of meals in the week ahead!

How to use:  Generally speaking, the speedy blender concoction can be used as a dressing for green or grain-based salads and pasta dishes or as a sauce for seafood and chicken.  It complements a wide range of specific ingredients like tomatoes, white beans, eggs, corn, feta cheese, seasonal greens, and potatoes (sweet and regular), so think along these lines when crafting made-to-order meals.

Drizzling this vibrant dressing over sliced, vine-ripened tomatoes is equal parts simple and sublime, and it can replace the balsamic vinaigrette and basil leaves for a twist on the traditional tomato and mozzarella platter (crusty bread to soak up the excess is not a bad thing). But don’t stop there.

Consider how you might use pesto and try this in its place.  Or stir some into potato, chicken, or tuna salad along with (or instead of) the mayo.  I’ve shared a jar of basil vinaigrette with several friends to see how they might use it, and it reportedly enhanced the likes of grilled shrimp, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, tuna steaks, and quinoa salad.

Basil Vinaigrette — This fresh-tasting vinaigrette is a streamlined option to pesto that can be used in much the same way.  Once you have a jar in your refrigerator, it will perk up all sorts of meals in the week ahead!

Pictured below is a tomato and white bean salad that I make often because it whips up in a flash once the dressing component is on hand.  The wholesome combination pairs well with a simple grilled protein, but you could try stirring in some diced grilled chicken, shrimp, or even canned tuna for a satisfying all-in-one meal.  You can also alter the amount of greens depending on whether you’re in the mood for a lighter green salad or a heartier bean salad.

Tomato & White Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette — healthy, endlessly adaptable, and can be made in a flash with the easy basil vinaigrette recipe or your favorite pesto.

With special thanks and one more way to enjoy:
This vinaigrette was inspired by a recipe graciously shared by the staff at Bowdoin College after I enjoyed a similar dressing on a delicious dining hall salad bar creation of mixed greens, blanched broccoli florets, chunked tuna, cannellini beans, sunflower seeds, and pickled red onions (pictured below).

This easy-to-make condiment adds a punch of color and flavor to a variety of meats, tacos, sandwiches, salads--and so much more!

Basil Vinaigrette
Yield: approximately 1 cup
This fresh-tasting vinaigrette is a streamlined option to pesto that can be used in much the same way.  Once you have a jar in your refrigerator, it will perk up all sorts of meals in the week ahead!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped OR2 tablespoons minced sweet yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup (112 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend for 45-60 seconds or until very smooth, scraping down the sides a few times as needed.

The dressing can be used right away but the flavor will improve over the first day or so.It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks as the vinegar and oil preserve the basil, but the flavor is freshest over the first week. Once the mixture has been refrigerated for a day or so, it will develop a nice thickness.  Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes and stir before using.

Notes
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you, Betty! Olive oil will solidify after being stored in the refrigerator, but if you leave it at room temperature for a few minutes before serving and give it a stir, it will be just fine. I tend to use an extra virgin olive oil.

      Reply
  1. Lynn Post author

    Just made my 2nd batch of your great Basil Vinaigrette – perfect use of my abundant basil crop this year! Thanks!

    Reply