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lettuce salad with vegetables and shrimp in bowl

Classic French Vinaigrette and Infinite Variations

Course: Salad
Cuisine: French, Pacific Northwest
Keyword: customizable, marinade, salad dressing
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Author: Pam Spettel
Use no-measure easy ratios and flavorful vinegars, oils, aromatics, herbs, sweeteners, and emulsifiers to create a world of your own customized vinaigrettes and marinades. Taking your salads from boring, limp, and soggy to exciting, crisp and refreshing couldn't be easier.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Small clear glass jar

Ingredients

Classic French Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ - 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste Kosher salt dissolves easiest, but any salt is good
  • lemon juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • good quality olive oil the flavor is prominent in this dressing, so use the best you have

Mustard Fig Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard Inglehoffer Stone Ground is really good, but any kind will be wonderful
  • 1 teaspoon fig jam Trader Joes almost always carries this
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sherry or champagne vinegar
  • olive oil use the best you have

Balsamic Herb Dressing

  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano and/or basil, finely chopped
  • ½ - 1 small shallot, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil use the best you have

Instructions

For each of the three variations and all of your own creations:

  • In the bottom of the jar, put all of the ingredients except the vinegar and olive oil. Be generous with the salt-- it's the only salt all your salad vegetables will get!
  • Eyeballing it, pour vinegar into the jar until is about ⅓ full.
  • Eyeballing it again, pour in about the same amount of the olive oil as vinegar and other ingredients until the jar is ⅔ full. Screw the lid on tightly (very important!) and shake like heck.
  • Viola! You've made a fabulous vinaigrette!
  • A word about proportions: We're working in equal proportions of vinegar + aromatics/sweeteners to olive oil. To make less vinaigrette, fill the jar with fewer aromatic ingredients and vinegar. Then just match the height of olive oil in the jar to the height of the things in the bottom of the jar. (If your aromatics and vinegar come ¼ of the way up the jar, add about that same amount of oil to make the jar only half full.
    Sometimes I only want a tiny bit of vinaigrette for just one salad, and I may only put ¼" of flavorful ingredients and vinegar in the bottom of the jar, topped off with ¼" of olive oil. It's all a matter of ratios, not a matter of strict measurements!

Notes

Make it Your Own:
Aromatics, singular or in combination:
  • any mustard, except yellow
  • any chopped fresh or dried herbs
  • smashed strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries
  • garlic
  • shallot
  • lemongrass
  • green onion
Sweeteners:
  • honey
  • jam or jelly
  • date syrup
  • rice syrup
  • maple syrup
  • a touch of sugar
Vinegars/acid base:
  • any kind of citrus juice
  • almost any kind of vinegar
    • red wine, white wine, sherry or champagne
    • apple cider
    • fruit and berry varieties
    • coconut
    • rice and rice wine
    • balsamic and white balsamic
Oils
  • high quality olive oil
  • neutral-flavored vegetable or canola oil
  • a few drops of sesame oil in addition to one of the above