Passion Fruit Vinaigrette & a Template for Great Salad
This quick, easy passion fruit vinaigrette comes together in moments. Its bright flavours beautifully complement green salads, winter fruits, and steamed fish. A pretty, tasty, seasonal dressing to add to your menus.
In my opinion, vinaigrette can make or break a salad. It’s often an afterthought, and it shouldn’t be. A harsh vinaigrette, with flavours that are too bold, can destroy a terrific salad. And, a well-balanced vinaigrette can elevate a humdrum salad just as easily. So, if you want to create drool-worthy salads, you’ll want to invest some time and effort in creative vinaigrettes.
While a simple, elegant vinaigrette takes mere moments to whisk together, we all too often fall short. At my house, this is because we’re all incredibly busy. Making vinaigrette at the end of a long day feels like yet another chore.
So, to make life a bit easier, I’ve begun to prepare vinaigrette in bulk. Yes, you heard me, bulk. Not bulk of the big box store variety. But, I make enough vinaigrette to last through several family-sized salads. Having a cup or two of homemade vinaigrette on the counter (or in the fridge) allows me to focus on composing a beautiful salad — rather than stressing about the additional last-minute task of whisking together a dressing.
In Johannesburg, winter is passion fruit (granadilla) season. The arrival of these pretty purple fruits in our markets makes the cool weather months more bearable. Adding a dollop of passion fruit to any dish is like having a ray of sunshine on your plate, which magically takes the edge off winter’s chill.
My latest obsession is with this simple passion fruit vinaigrette. It’s a deliciously easy way to use these delicate fruits. Plus, passion fruit’s sweet, tart, and exotic notes add a dimension of excitement to an every day green salad.
A Template for Creating the Best Green Salad
Now that we’ve got the dressing out of the way, let’s focus for just a moment on the salad. If dressing is an afterthought, salads are in much worse shape. Even some restaurants give so little thought to their salads that they’re not worth eating. This is a shame, because salad ought to be a joy to eat.
Think of the best salad you’ve ever eaten. I bet it’s a concrete memory — fragrance, texture, and flavour all came together in a way that left you questioning how such a simple thing could be THAT good. That’s my memory of my first visit to Paris many years ago. I was gobsmacked by how even the humblest establishments turned out consistently delicious salads.
It turns out that, like anything great, those salads were simple. However, they were also absolutely deliberate.
Someone had taken the time to think carefully about each element that went on the plate — starting with the greens. Any old plate of greens will never do.
If your market doesn’t offer a decent blend of mixed greens, make your own. Consider the texture, flavour and colour of the greens you choose. For nutrition and taste, a few bitter greens can be a lovely addition to a salad. However, they must be balanced with milder greens to be enjoyed. Most of all, choose the freshest looking greens in the market. Your taste buds will thank you.
Think of each element that will go into your salad bowl. No item should be too big for a mouthful. Nor, should anything be a challenge to chew through. Choose the rainbow in terms of your veggies.
Print out the handy template (below) to guide you through the process of building a deliberate and delicious salad. Then, get creative. Consider adding toasted seeds or nuts for another layer of texture and crunch. Add seasoned tofu for an extra burst of protein. Legumes are also a wonderful addition to salads, as are edible flowers. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the sky is the limit!
About this Recipe
Passion fruit vinaigrette is very easy to make. However, as always, I have a couple of tips that will help you to achieve consistently excellent results.
Strain the Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is filled with tiny seeds. They’re delicious, and they actually look pretty in certain applications. However, they are not nice to crunch on in your salad. So, use a tea strainer propped over a measuring cup to strain out the seeds. Press them with the pack of a small teaspoon and agitate them to get as much of the pulp and the juice out as possible.
Use a Clip-Top Jar
A small, clip-top jar with a one to two cup capacity is your best friend for making vinaigrettes in advance. Since the emulsion will inevitably separate as it sits and waits to be used, you can simply shake up your sealed jar to re-emulsify the dressing at serving time. This is the easiest way to store your pre-made salad dressings and keep them handy.
Dress Your Salad Lightly
One of the most common mistakes with vinaigrette is to use too much. Nobody likes salad leaves that are soaked and saucy.
To achieve a nice balance, start with less. You’ll be surprised how far just a little vinaigrette goes. Spoon a little vinaigrette onto your salad (about 2 tablespoons per serving). Remember, dressing is like salt — it can always be added but is hard to get rid of when you’ve used too much. Toss the salad gently (so as not to bruise the greens). Your salad is dressed enough when all the leaves glisten just a tad.
I sincerely hope this post helps you build better salads and that your family enjoys this delicious passion fruit vinaigrette every bit as much as mine does. Bon appétit!