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Classic Vinaigrette

Yield: Yields about 1 cup.

This is infinitely adaptable, versatile, and quick to make with pantry ingredients. The only trick is the emulsification. Use on green salads of course, but also on cool or room-temperature potatoes, rice, grains, pasta, beans, and lentils; drizzle on warm grilled or roasted vegetables; nap over grilled, broiled, or steamed fish or chicken


  • 1/4 cup red- or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated and the sauce is slightly thickened and emulsified.


  • To use other vinegars and oils: Use another vinegar (sherry, balsamic, Champagne, tarragon, fruit, cider) or substitute 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice for the wine vinegar. Try another oil (walnut, hazelnut, or other nut, or a citrus-infused oil) alone or in combination with olive oil or a neutral-tasting vegetable oil.
  • For an herb vinaigrette: Make the basic recipe using any combination of vinegar and oil and add 3 Tbs. fresh herbs, single or a mix. Especially good are parsley, basil, dill, tarragon, chervil, and cilantro.
  • For a roasted garlic vinaigrette: Toss 10 unpeeled garlic cloves in olive oil, wrap tightly in aluminum foil, and roast at 400°F for 30 minutes until very soft. Squeeze the pulp from the skins, combine with 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest, 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme, and purée in the food processor. Add olive oil according to the basic recipe and omit the mustard.
  • For a black olive vinaigrette: Make the basic recipe using red-wine vinegar and olive oil. Whisk in 1 minced clove garlic, 2 tsp. chopped capers, 1/3 cup finely chopped Kalamata or other good black olives, 2 finely minced anchovy fillets, and 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint.

  • For a sun-dried tomato basil vinaigrette: Make the basic recipe with either vinegar and whisk in 3 Tbs. chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, 1/2 cup finely diced fresh tomato, 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil, and 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest.

  • For a Caesar-style vinaigrette: Purée together 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 3 chopped anchovy fillets, 2 cloves garlic, 3 Tbs. grated Parmesan, and a dash of hot sauce. Whisk this purée into the basic recipe made with white-wine vinegar.
  • For a honey-mustard vinaigrette: Add 1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard and 2 Tbs. honey to the basic recipe and proceed, using white-wine vinegar and vegetable oil.


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