The swill you get out of bottles in the supermarket that are labelled "French dressing" bears little resemblance to real French dressing. The basic French dressing of France is a simple mixture of a good wine vinegar, good oil, salt, pepper, and fresh green herbs in season. Sometimes mustard is added, and garlic is added in southern France. Vinaigrette is used as a salad dressing or as a marinade.
The usual proportion of vinegar to oil is 1:3, but you may alter that to your taste. Use this basic recipe as a springboard for your own creativity: you can use myriad flavored or infused vinegars or oils, different types of oils, and you can even use acid fruit juices (lemon, lime, etc.) or acidulated fruit juices in place of the vinegar.
If you're making vinaigrette for use as a salad dressing, make sure the lettuces or greens are totally dry on order to adhere the dressing to the leaves.
Whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Slowly incorporate the oil by droplets. If you're using a food processor, blend in the oil in a slow, steady stream.
- 1 - 2 tablespoons wine vinegar, or a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice
- 1/8 teapsoon salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black or white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard; or 1/2 teaspoon Dijon or Creole mustard (optional)
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
This makes about 1/2 cup. If you choose to add fresh herbs, such as tarragon, basil, chives, dill, etc., stir in the herbs and correct seasoning just before dressing the salad or saucing the dish.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)