Flavorful Jalapeño Basil Vinaigrette
A Simple Formula
There really isn't much to making a vinaigrette... The proportions are simple, generally one part vinegar to three parts oil. It's an excellent combination in that it may be stored seemingly forever, generally works well with a variety of foods, and the acidity of the vinegar aids in digestion.
But that same old combination does get boring quickly, doesn't it? Well... let's not forget a vinaigrette's versatility! There are a number of modifications to experiment with. So, here's a simple way to add the aroma of basil and a mild taste of jalapeño without all the heat.
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- 2 to 8 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- On a sturdy cutting board (and with a *sharp* knife), remove the tops of two jalapeño peppers. Discard tops.
- Split peppers in half lengthwise.
- Carefully remove and discard the pith (that's the fluffy white stuff inside the pepper) and seeds. -- NOTE: The membrane holding the seeds to the pith is where a majority of the pepper's capsaicin is - the chemical that makes a pepper "hot." So, we're keeping the flavor of the pepper's flesh without all the heat of the capsaicin.
- Cut the remaining flesh into thin strips, about an eighth of an inch thick.
- Dice the pepper finely. The smaller the pieces, the more flavor will escape into the vinaigrette. You should end up with roughly 1/2 cup of diced pepper.
- Prepare chosen amount of fresh basil depending on desired effect. Use two or three leaves for a mild aroma and flavor, use up to six or eight leaves for a heavy aroma and flavor. Take care not to go overboard as excessive use of basil will drown out the flavor of jalapeño.
- Slice and dice the basil leaves as you did with the pepper.
- Combine jalapeño and basil in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar. Stir with a tablespoon, lightly crushing the peppers against the bowl walls to bleed flavor into the vinegar. Optionally, you may allow this mixture to infuse in a sealed container (refrigerated, of course) for a day prior to continuing to the next step.
- With the aid of a funnel, transfer vinegar mixture - including pepper and basil - into a dispensing bottle. I like to use old oil bottles for my vinaigrette.
- Again, with the aid of a funnel, add 1 1/2 cups olive oil to the bottle.
- Shake before using.
The Importance of Quality
Quality can make all the difference in the world... I like to use home-grown ingredients whenever possible for two important reasons:
- I know what is (and isn't) in the food.
- Can't get any fresher than something carried straight from your garden to your kitchen.
If you don't have a garden, try the local farmer's market. Don't be afraid to explore options, research providers, and find what you like. Obviously, use your best judgement and do the best you can with what you have.
|Serving size: 2 tbsp|
|Calories from Fat||144|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 16 g||25%|
|Saturated fat 2 g||10%|
|Unsaturated fat 14 g|
|Carbohydrates 1 g|
|Sugar 1 g|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
A Note About Nutrition Facts
Since the nutritional values of the peppers and basil are negligible in such a small serving size, I left them out entirely. Subsequently, what we have here are the nutritional values for a 2 tbsp serving of a 1:3 vinegar and oil mixture.