Baby gem salad and mustard vinaigrette with whole mustard seeds.

Basic Recipes: Vinaigrette

My life completely changed when I learned to make my own vinaigrette, in a sense that I am confident about making it and know exactly how I like it.

I am sure many of you already have the recipe for your favorite salad dressing but in case you need inspiration, here is a good base recipe that you can begin with.

A Good Vinaigrette

Two parts red wine vinegar
Three to four parts olive oil
Dijon mustard

In a small bowl, combine a little bit of mustard with red wine vinegar. Season with salt, grind in some pepper, and whisk in olive oil.

Taste and adjust with salt, vinegar, or oil as needed.

A vinaigrette should taste bright and lively without being overly acidic or overly oily. I like my vinaigrette on the acidic side. I am pretty sure my vinegar and oil ratio is sometimes closer to 1:1 than 2:3.

However, the perfect balance can not be given as quantities. If you are using a very fresh, new oil you need much less vinegar and mustard than when using oil that is older and rounder, and tastes more oily.

Also, feel free to use white wine or champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice to replace some or all of the red wine vinegar.

You can make your vinaigrette well in advance of the meal, and store it in the fridge. However, a salad will not stay fresh long after you have dressed it. Add vinaigrette over the leaves only just before serving.