French vinaigrette.  It’s a liquid poem you pour over freshly harvested greens, which in turn becomes the best dish you ever ate.

Like any French person, I eat a salad after every meal.  Sometimes a salad IS my meal.  Whether tender or robust, salad greens make a great base for a freshly poached egg; bacon lardons; tofu cubes steeped in tamari and ginger;  seared foie gras.  The list goes on.  But what makes it all sing is the vinaigrette.

Because I eat a lot of salad, I make up a  vinaigrette base so that when it’s time to toss those greens, all I have to do is measure out the amount I need, mince a clove of garlic, or slice a shallot paper thin and VOILA!  A perfectly dressed salad in no time at all.

Some ingredients you may want to add to your vinaigrette after you’ve measured it out: paper-thin sliced shallot (essential in my book), minced garlic (recommended), freshly ground black pepper (highly appreciated), fresh herbs, lemon zest, hot pepper flakes, a little curry powder.   You’ll have plenty of other ideas as well.

Here are two Basic Vinaigrette bases to have on hand.  To use, just shake, measure out the quantity you want (about 2 tablespoons for 5 cups of washed and spun-dry lettuce leaves) and either whisk in whatever it is you plan to add, or sprinkle additions atop the salad and toss away.

Note: don’t add garlic, shallot, or fresh herbs to your vinaigrette base even though it might save you some time. Their microbial behaviour  is unpredictable.

VINAIGRETTE BASE – I

1/4 cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60ml) neutral oil (untoasted peanut is my favorite)
3/4 cup (180ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  1.  Place the vinegar and the mustard in a medium-sized bowl and whisk together.  Whisk in the salt, then slowly whisk in the oils.  Your vinaigrette is likely to be quite thick; if it is too thick for your liking, whisk in some warm water.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust accordingly. Transfer the vinaigrette base to a bottle or container of your choice, and reserve for those salad moments.  The vinaigrette doesn’t need to be refrigerated, unless you don’t plan to use it.

Makes about 1-1/4 cups (310ml) vinaigrette, enough for quite a few salads

VINAIGRETTE BASE – 2

¼ cup (60ml) tamari
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup (60ml) neutral oil
¾ cup (180ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Place the tamari, the vinegar, and the mustard in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in the oils until they’re emulsified. Your vinaigrette is likely to be quite thick; if it is too thick for your liking, whisk in some warm water. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Makes about 1-1/4 cups (310ml) vinaigrette, enough for quite a few salads

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6 Responses to The Best Vinaigrette

  1. Angela says:

    I’m surprised at the addition of the neutral/peanut oil. I really must try that new twist. The Tamari is interesting, too.

    • Susan says:

      Angela – Using all olive oil CAN result in a slight bitterness. And you’ll love the “umami” of the tamari.

  2. I have been making incredible vinaigrettes since my time in your kitchen at On Rue Tatin. Thank you for these tips!

  3. Karen says:

    Nice to try a new twist on the usual vinaigrette….What are the greens you have pictured there?

    • Susan says:

      Karen – I used mache in the picture – also called lamb’s lettuce or corn salad. But you can use a mixture of any lettuces with this vinaigrette.

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