by Purple Carrot

As we all learned in elementary science class, oil and water do not mix. The two will separate no matter how much you whisk. In order to whip up a velvety smooth vinaigrette for your salad, you need an emulsifier. This is an ingredient that connects oil and water molecules and keeps them together.

First things first: start out with the right ratio of acid to oil. You want 1 part acid, like vinegar or citrus juice, to 2 parts oil, usually olive or nut oil. Try this: 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar and ¼ cup (4 tbsp) olive oil. You can whisk until your arms fall off, but this will always separate.

Dijon mustard, agave, or Vegenaise. These ingredients contain phospholipids and carbohydrates (all good things) that attract and bind oil and water. A good rule of thumb to follow is to add 1 tsp of your emulsifier for every ½ cup of vinaigrette. You can add it at any stage of the process to get a smooth, silky result.

Another emulsifier that packs a wallop of flavor: garlic paste. We’re not talking finely minced garlic cloves. We’re talking garlic grated on a rasp-style grater, pulverized on a cutting board with a pinch of salt, or pounded with a mortar and pestle. It only takes about ¼ tsp of garlic paste to stabilize ¼ cup of a broken vinaigrette.

After adding in your emulsifiers, season your vinaigrette with salt, pepper, herbs, spices, or aromatics as you see fit. See our favorite sauces here for some flavor inspiration!