Basic Vinaigrette

The oil: We like to use extra-virgin olive oil. You could use canola oil or a combination of the two; grassy, pungent Tuscan olive oils are good for some applications, but we prefer mellower, fruity ones for vinaigrette. In fall and winter, we replace a portion of the olive oil with nut oil, choosing walnut, pumpkin seed or hazelnut. Nut oils are pricier and spoil quicker, so buy small bottles and refrigerate after opening. The vinegar: If we’re dressing robust greens like escarole or watercress, or salads comprising roasted root vegetables or nutty cheese, balsamic or sherry vinegars are our go-to. For tender spring greens like mâche and baby arugula, choose Champagne vinegar. Lemon juice can also be used; because it’s milder than vinegar, we use it in a one-to-one ratio with the oil. You can also experiment with these interesting vinegars. The base: A teaspoon of Dijon mustard is a good foundation. We also like minced anchovy fillets, minced garlic, chopped caramelized or raw shallots, a teaspoon of olive tapenade, even a spoonful of jam. You can add a pinch of sugar or a teaspoon of honey, if desired, and season the finished vinaigrette with salt and pepper and chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chervil, basil, mint or chives.

Basic Vinaigrette

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  • Prep Time


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  • Garlic, minced, 1 clove

  • Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon

  • Vinegar (balsamic, sherry, white or red wine, Champagne or apple cider), 2 tablespoons

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 6 tablespoons

  • Kosher salt

  • Ground black pepper


DIRECTIONS In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the garlic, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Shake vigorously until the oil and vinegar are well-emulsified, then season to taste with salt and pepper. The dressing will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.


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