Healthy Hero: ChopChop Cooking Lab & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

ChopChop was transported off the pages of the magazine and into the classroom last summer and this year. The ChopChop Cooking Lab, sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and taught by Chef Bill Yosses, incorporated science, math, mindfulness, and cooking skills into cooking classes at select Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Massachusetts. The ChopChop Cooking Lab and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation are featured as our Healthy Hero in the Summer 2015 issue. Check out the lessons learned in the ChopChop Cooking Lab egg lesson including skills such as cracking an egg, scrambling, knife skills, whisking, seasoning, serving, and washing dishes.  

Host Your Own Cooking Lab!

Want to host a cooking lab in your own kitchen? Make a salad and use this Perfect Dressing Lab with your family. This experiment will teach you how to:

  • Measure
  • Season
  • Whisk (or use a jar to shake the dressing)
  • Taste test

Taste Test: Perfect Dressing Lab

Making a vinaigrette from scratch is like a magic trick: put oil, vinegar, and some seasonings into a jar, shake it, pour it on your salad, and you’ll never buy the bottled stuff again! But how do you know how much oil and vinegar to put in? And which kinds? It’s just a matter of taste.

  1. Start by finding your favorite oil (we like olive oil for most salad dressing) and your favorite vinegar (see below for some ideas). Also grab some salt, some mustard (we like Dijon for this), some clean lettuce or greens, and a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. The classic ratio of oil to vinegar is 2:1 or 3:1. That means you use twice as much—or three times as much—oil as you use vinegar. (If you started with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, how much oil would you use for the 2:1 ration? How about for the 3:1?)
  3. Start with 1:1. That means equal parts of oil and vinegar. Measure 1 tablespoon of oil into the jar along with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and a tiny bit of mustard; screw on the lid; and shake, shake, shake, until the dressing looks creamy and blended.
  4. Now taste it on a leaf of lettuce. How is it? It might taste just right—and you’ve found your perfect balance already.
  5. If it’s too sharp—too sour or vinegary—try adding another tablespoon of oil and shake and taste again. Does it need more salt? More mustard? Shake and taste again. This is now a 2:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio. Keep tinkering until you find the way it tastes best to you, then be sure to write down your formula!

Fancy That!
You can also add garlic, herbs, black pepper, and other spices to the dressing. Try different combinations to see what you like best.

Beginner Vinegar

  • Vinegar is made from fermenting different ingredients, which gives it a sour taste.
  • White vinegar is plain and slightly sweet.
  • Rice vinegar is mild and not too acidic.
  • Balsamic vinegar is dark and sweet.
  • Red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar is sharp and flavorful.
  • Sherry vinegar is strong and nutty.
  • Cider vinegar tastes a little bit like apples.
  • Flavored vinegars will taste like whatever they’re flavored with.
  • You can also use lemon juice, which is tart and citrusy.