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I have had this amazing pesto vinaigrette at a local restaurant recently, and I have been trying recreate it in my home quickly and easily. I know the best way to do it would be from scratch, but does anyone have suggestions on the type of vinegar to use to mix in with store-bought pesto?

I have tried about 3 TBS of pesto to 1 TBS of white wine vinegar. It has some of the similar taste, but what I am looking for is a bit sweeter and a little less acidic. I don't want to add too much more vinegar, because the consistency I am going for is pourable but not overly watery.

Any thoughts? Has anyone tried this with a different type of vinegar?

Or should I just ask the restaurant for their recipe?

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You might try red wine vinegar, or a rice wine vinegar perhaps, maybe even balsamic (I would go young, but I don't think this will taste good). You might just be missing a touch of sweetener like honey or sugar to cut the acid.

Depending on how up tight the chef is, they may tell you their recipe, chances are you're not going to get the same thing from store bought pesto as almost certainly some of the oil was subbed for the acid, or maybe more oil would have been added. Pesto, also as a rule, tastes better fresh and only takes few seconds to whip up.

I recommend talking to the restaurant owner or executive chef, and see if they're willing to divulge their pesto recipe.

Also, searching Google for Pesto Vinegrette tells me you're at least on the right track:

    1/2 cup Jayes Basil Pesto (see Recipe Center) or purchased basil pesto
    3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    Salt
    Ground white pepper

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/salads/pesto-vinaigrette/

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It might be the lemon juice that I am missing as well. I'll test it out and report back. –  webtina Aug 15 '13 at 19:37
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They likely used white balsamic vinegar which is not cheap but has the kind of taste that sends people searching on the net ;) In character, it is sweeter than white wine, rice wine, and normal white vinegar and less acidic.

btw, you can easily make your awesome own pesto in your blender using fresh basil, pine nuts, and olive oil. If you blanch the basil, it'll stay bright green and pretty for the life of it.

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The most common vinegar for salad dressings I've used in kitchens is apple cider vinegar. It is definitely sweeter than white wine vinegar, and more affordable than balsamic. In fact, I wouldn't recommend balsamic vinegar, as it could easily overpower the flavor of the pesto, leaving you with more of a balsamic vinaigrette.

Red wine vinegar is also common, and inexpensive, but lacks some of the sweetness it sounds like you are looking for.

Don't forget that you can always add some sugar while making the vinaigrette if you feel you need to boost the sweetness.

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