Balsamic olive oil dressing is a type of vinaigrette. It is remarkably easy to make and is versatile, as you can add it to numerous dishes with good results. Unlike many easily prepared foods, a balsamic vinaigrette provides health benefits. The ingredients are easy to find, making this dressing an almost effortless addition to your meals.
It takes almost no time to prepare a simple vinaigrette using olive oil and balsamic vinegar. To make this basic dressing, simply combine 3 parts extra-virgin olive oil with 1 part balsamic vinegar. If you particularly enjoy the flavor and acidity of vinegar, you can combine it in a 2:1 or even a 1:1 ratio. Add a bit of Dijon mustard for taste and texture, as well as salt to taste. Prepare in a blender if you're making a large quantity, or shake in a jar for smaller batches. You can add additional ingredients for flavor variation, including minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, honey and black pepper.
An olive oil and vinegar dressing is more than a tasty addition to a salad, as it can give your health a boost. Olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat that decreases the "bad" low-density lipoprotein cholesterol while increasing beneficial high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Its benefits go beyond cholesterol, however. A study published in the September 2005 issue of "Nature" found that olive oil contains an anti-inflammatory substance called oleocanthal, which behaves in a manner similar to the painkiller ibuprofen. Reducing inflammation in the body might be another reason why olive oil is associated with lower rates of heart disease.
Balsamic vinegar, like all vinegars, also provides health benefits. Vinegar increases insulin sensitivity, according to a study conducted by Carol Johnson at the University of Arizona and published in the January 2004 issue of "Diabetes Care." A more efficient response to insulin can help to keep blood sugar levels stable, which controls food cravings.
The most common use for a balsamic olive oil dressing is to toss it with a salad. However, this healthy vinaigrette has other applications. Use it as a marinade for beef, poultry or fish. On the grill, baste vegetables and meats with it as they cook. Try it on unexpected foods -- grilled figs are delicious when basted with this dressing. Instead of putting mayonnaise on a sandwich, try sprinkling it with a few dashes of the vinaigrette for a pleasant change of pace.
The calories in an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette will vary depending on the proportion of oil to vinegar you use. For a lower-calorie dressing, prepare the dressing using a ratio of 1 part olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar. The extra flavor will enable you to use less of it, and it will have approximately one-third of the calories it would have than if you used the standard ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, as balsamic vinegar has 15 calories in 1 tbsp. while olive oil provides 120 calories.