A Splash Of Coffee Will Elevate Basic Salad Vinaigrette

Stop thinking about coffee as just a beverage and start thinking about it as an ingredient. Rather than limit yourself to drinking a cup of joe as is, we recommend adding a splash into your favorite recipes. Since we're no stranger to whisking coffee into condiments like barbecue or hot sauce, why not work some java into vinaigrette, as well? 

Partly fat, partly acid — vinaigrette lends itself wonderfully as a base for all sorts of flavorful additions, coffee included. Giving the dressing another dimension of depth, a touch of black coffee can easily enhance flavor and impart notes of fruit, earth, spice, nuts, and then some. Likewise, incorporating the bean juice can also improve balance. While the coffee's bitterness can cut through richness (and even tone down sweetness), the acids in the vinaigrette help to counterbalance this acrid quality. Instant or brewed, hot or cold, drip or espresso, any kind of coffee can be mixed into vinaigrette. Just bear in mind that certain beans are better than others. Unlike fruitier light roasts that can amplify sourness, we recommend opting for medium or dark roasts, preferably of the arabica variety. The reason for this being that their sweeter and smoother profiles will allow them to compliment a wider array of zesty vinaigrette recipes. 

Making coffee-infused vinaigrette is easy

After selecting the beans and brewing the coffee, the next step is crafting the vinaigrette. Begin with a base of oil, whether that be fruity olive, neutral canola, or toasty sesame is up to you. To that, add a bit of acidity with freshly squeezed lemon, tart pomegranate molasses, or a delicate vinegar such as a sweet balsamic or a nutty sherry. Then, work in something zesty like a dollop of mustard or clove of minced garlic, along with something sweet such as a drizzle of maple or honey to round out the flavors. You can also introduce herbs or spices. At this point, it's finally time to whisk in the coffee — a tablespoon or two will suffice. 

Once everything is combined, you can use the dressing immediately or keep in the fridge for a few days. Although with so many unique ways to use it, we doubt that the vinaigrette will rest idle for long. At its most basic, the sweetly tangy vinaigrette can contrast wonderfully against a simple salad of peppery arugula or earthy endive. However, its boldly bitter edge also makes it great for drizzling over decadent blends of buttery lettuces and creamy cheeses. Otherwise, playing into its roasted coffee nuances, the vinaigrette can be a match for charred vegetable salads, greens topped with smoky grilled meats, or even potato salads with nuts and caramelized onions. With all sorts of flavorful options, how will you decide to use coffee vinaigrette?