Creamy, punchy and guaranteed to wake up even the blandest salad, this is the sort of dressing you’ll find in many a French bistro. It works not only on regular green leafy salads, but also tastes delicious drizzled over roasted or cooked vegetables such as green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, beets, etc.
Why would you make your own dressing when there are hundreds to choose from at the supermarket? Well, for one it’s made with that uber-Mediterranean ingredient, extra virgin olive oil, which boasts a wide range of healthful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, unlike the industrially refined and potentially unhealthy seed oils (like soybean, canola, sunflower, etc.) that most store-bought dressings are made with.
Moreover, it’s endlessly versatile! I usually keep a 1-pint mason jar of this vinaigrette in my fridge that I call my “base dressing.” It contains all the usual ingredients: oil, vinegar (in the classic French proportions of 3:1), mustard, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. It’s great when you just want to dress a few greens for a busy weeknight meal.
But if you’re in the mood to have a bit of fun with your food, you can vary this dressing endlessly by siphoning off a ½ cup of basic dressing and blending it with herbs, lemon, fruits, etc., resulting in an exciting array of aromas and colors. (See notes below.) Makes 2 cups.
Classic French bistro vinaigrette
- blender Ideally, a high-powered blender (like Blendtec or Vitamix), but an immersion blender will work, too
- ½ cup vinegar I like to use white balsamic vinegar, but red or white wine vinegar work great, too; sometimes I replace half the vinegar with lemon juice for a fresher flavor
- 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 2 medium shallots peeled & coarsely chopped
- 2 small cloves garlic crushed or grated on a Microplane zester
- 1 tsp thyme fresh (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil if you find the taste of extra virgin olive oil too assertive, replace half of it with avocado oil (i.e., ¾ cup of each)
- Combine all the ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until perfectly smooth - about 1 minute. Adjust consistency by adding 2-3 tbsp cold water, if desired; it should have the texture of heavy cream -- thick yet pourable.
- Transfer to a clean glass bottle or pint jar and store in the refrigerator.
If you want to mix things up a little, you can add flavorings. For each ½ cup of base dressing, use one of the following:
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 4-5 ripe & fragrant grape tomatoes
- ¼ cup fresh raspberries or strawberries (and a smidgen of honey or sugar if too tart)
- ¼ cup roasted red peppers strips
- ½ tsp lemon zest, 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1-2 tsp honey (for a Scandinavian flavor, add ¼ cup fresh dill)