Vinegar is one of the most common ingredients in salad dressings. From apple cider, to balsamic, to wine vinegars we use just about every type in our recipes here at That Salad Lady. Each type adds good zing and packs a powerful nutritional punch. But there’s another type of vinegar we love – champagne vinegar. Here we’re sharing out favorite Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing, which is a super simple blend that brings loads of sweet mellow flavor to the bowl.
THE BALANCING ACT
Typically made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, like other wine vinegars, champagne vinegar is combined with bacteria (a “vinegar mother” similar to kombucha) and allowed to age and ferment into acetic acid. But, compared to other types of vinegar, champagne vinegar is milder and much less acidic in flavor. This makes it an excellent choice for dressing salads made with more delicate greens like arugula and spinach.
Though not as rich in nutrition as say, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar can be beneficial in other ways.
Since, for instance, it’s very low in calories, champagne vinegar can be used to add flavor to foods without driving up their calorie counts. It’s especially great for marinating poultry, fish and seafood. As our champagne vinaigrette dressing includes a rich combination of healthy oils and alliums like garlic and shallot, its overall nutritional value is much higher than that of champagne vinegar by itself.
Let’s talk more about the other ingredients in our champagne vinaigrette dressing.
Fresh and Clean Vinegar
We’ve already talked a lot about the general qualities of champagne vinegar. Now, let’s talk about how best to choose it. As with the champagne it’s made from, you want to ensure that the champagne vinegar you choose has a waterlike consistency. Simply tilt or shake the bottle and make sure it moves around like water. This means it’s nice and fresh. If the vinegar moves around slowly or coats the container in any way, more than likely it’s not a fresh bottle.
Like champagne, the vinegar should also be light in color. The color of champagne vinegar can range from pale gold to apricot orange. If the color is darker or more yellow, it’s probably older and won’t make for good dressing. As good quality champagne vinaigrette dressing starts with good quality vinegar, keep these tips in mind when choosing yours.
A Hefty Dose of Good Fat
Our champagne vinaigrette dressing recipe calls for a flavorful combination of grapeseed oil and extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). Together, these oils supply hefty doses of monounsaturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, both of which are generally referred to as “good fats.” With its distinctly fruity and peppery taste, EVOO delivers sweet and savory flavors that elevate the overall taste profile of the blend. However, by itself, EVOO tends to overpower the dressing.
That’s where grapeseed oil comes in. As this oil brings more neutral flavor, it helps balance out the EVOO. In addition to all the good fats these oils contain, both are great sources of vitamin E too – grapeseed oil even more so than EVOO. Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant known to support immunity and heart health.
Now, with all this good nutrition, these oils come with added calories too, which is due to all the fats they contain. But, this is actually a good thing, as these fats help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins and certain antioxidants housed in vegetables and fruits. In other words, adding these fats to whole food layers actually unlocks all the health-promoting nutrients they contain. That’s why we’re such big fans of fats here.
A Hint of Sweetness
To bring a little sweetness to the blend, our recipe calls for pure maple syrup. In addition to being an excellent alternative to table sugar, maple syrup contains a unique combination of health-promoting phytonutrients that function as powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. We should emphasize that we’re referring to pure maple syrup, not the maple-flavored pancake syrup sold in grocery stores.
Pure maple syrup is made from 100% maple sap, with nothing added. Maple sap is mostly crystal-clear water with about 2% sugar content. On the flip side, maple-flavored syrup is overly processed, high in sugar and dense in additives. If you don’t have pure maple syrup on hand, pure honey or agave nectar work too, the latter of which is better if you follow a vegan diet as pure honey itself is not vegan.
The Savory Goodness of Alliums
For rich, savory flavor, our champagne vinaigrette dressing recipe includes a combination of fresh garlic and shallot. As allium vegetables, these layers contain a dense cocktail of phytonutrients with known antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Due to these powerful effects, regularly eating them helps lower the risk of heart disease, chronic inflammation and various cancers.
While shallot is delicate and sweet with a hint of sharpness, garlic brings more pungent, somewhat spicy flavor. Our recipe specifically calls for freshly minced garlic, as garlic is most effective when it’s freshly crushed or cut. While you can use jarred minced garlic as a “shortcut,” we don’t recommend doing this. Jarred versions tend to have “off” flavors, which’ll definitely be detectable in your finished dressing.
A Little Thyme for the Finish
For a strong finish, our recipe calls for dried thyme. With its an earthy, minty, slightly lemony flavor, this herb pairs well with the champagne vinegar and oils and really brings the dressing blend to life. If you have it on hand, you can use fresh thyme too. As dried thyme tends to have a deeper, spicier flavor, you’ll just need to add a little more if you go with fresh. We include measurements for both dried and fresh thyme in the recipe card.
Once you’ve chosen your champagne vinegar and gathered all the other ingredients for the dressing the hard work is pretty much done. At this point, you’ll simply blend or mix the ingredients to your desired consistency. If using a blender or food processor, just add all your ingredients and start mixing.
With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. That’s it!
If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, no sweat! Simply add all the ingredients to a jar with a twist off lid and just shake it up until everything’s well-mixed. You can also combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl. Using either method, you’ll have to mince your garlic and finely chop your shallot in advance. You can do this with a high-quality chef’s knife.
The Versatility of Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette
Our champagne vinaigrette dressing recipe makes 6-8 flavor-packed servings (2-3 tablespoons per serving). In addition to elevating the taste and nutritional profile of practically any salad bowl, it also makes a great marinade for poultry, fish and seafood. Try it on That Salad Lady’s “Rainbow Black-Eyed Peas Collards with Fresh Collards” or “Mediterranean Chopped Salad.”
We recommend transferring any leftover dressing to an airtight sealed container and then storing it in the fridge. It’ll last for up to 10 days.
SHOW US YOUR WORK
That Salad Lady wants to see all your great work. If you enjoy our champagne vinaigrette dressing, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.