How to make a simple vinaigrette

I learned to make salad dressing from Chez Panisse Vegetables. This simple recipe calls for macerating shallots in lemon juice and vinegar for about 20 minutes. Once you master this simple recipe, you can alter it as you wish — use orange juice, lime juice, or any number of vinegars in place of the lemon juice and champagne vinegar. I often add sugar to taste as well.

1. Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette
Source: Chez Panisse Vegetables

Note: The original recipe appears below, but this is what I have been doing recently:

Finely dice a shallot or two. Place in a bowl and cover with the juice of one orange. Add 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of sugar. Let macerate for 15 minutes, if you have the time, or less, if you don’t. Whisk in about 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. It’s ok if the dressing is not totally emulsified. Just give it a stir when you’re ready to use it and spoon it, making sure to scoop out some of those delicious shallots, over your greens in a large salad bowl.

2 small shallots, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white balsamic vinegar*
2 tablespoons lemon juice*
¼ teaspoon sugar (optional — this is not in the original recipe, but I always like a pinch of sugar)
½ teapoon kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper

*As I noted above, you can substitute what you wish for the vinegar or citrus. You also could use only vinegar or only citrus juice. Use whatever you have on hand or whatever you like best.

To make the dressing, place the shallots in a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Stir and let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to make an emulsified dressing. Set aside.

A Few Other Favorite Salads & Dressings:

2. Aunt Phyllis’ Greek Salad Dressing
This is the dressing my family uses when we make Greek salads, which are not Greek salads in the traditional sense — we use chopped Romaine lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, crumbled feta cheese, snipped fresh dill and a few pinches of dried oregano. Cucumber, olives and peppers — whatever you like — of course can be added.

1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
fresh snipped chives
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together everything but the olive oil. Once nicely blended, slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly to form an emulsion.

Aunt Phyllis' Greek Salad Dressing

Greek salad:
Greek salad

3. Jean Georges Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon very finely minced garlic
freshly ground pepper
big pinch kosher salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Whisk together everything but the olive oil. Once nicely blended, slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly to form an emulsion. Taste, adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, etc.

4. Caesar Dressing
Adapted from Tartine Bread
Serve dressing with this Addictive Kale Caesar Salad

This is my updated variation of the caesar dressing from Tartine Bread. If you wish to make the original, find it here.

3 cloves garlic
3 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 large egg yolk
kosher salt
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar* or freshly squeezed lemon juice
about 1 cup olive oil

*I have been making this dressing a lot — all winter and spring in fact — and I actually prefer making it with white balsamic vinegar than with lemon juice. It is so easy and delicious. I like the Colavita White Balsamic Vinegar.

1. Finely mince the 3 cloves garlic with the 3 anchovy fillets — I add a pinch of salt while I’m mincing and drag my knife across the mash to help make a paste. Whisk in the egg yolk and 1/4 cup white balsamic. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until a thick dressing forms. I never measure the olive oil, so I can’t say exactly how much, but it’s probably about a cup or less.

5. Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette
Serve this with a Prosciutto, Endive & Shaved Manchego Salad
Yield = ½ cup (Make a double batch — It’s so nice to have on hand.)

4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard, sugar and salt. Let mixture macerate for 20 minutes. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Stir in tarragon. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside.

6. Orange & White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serve with some sort of wintry green endive, shaved fennel, apple, pear and/or oranges salad
Yield = 1¾ cups

2 cups orange juice
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, (regular is fine, too)
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped scallions, green part only, cut on the diagonal (optional — I don’t add the scallions because I like to keep a jar of this in my fridge for a long time)

1. In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until it has reduced to ½ cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a medium-sized bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, whisk in the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before using.

7. Orange-Shallot Vinaigrette
Especially nice with this Salt-Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (store bought works fine, too)
1 T. rice vinegar or balsamic (I used rice vinegar)
zest of an orange
1 small shallot, minced
chives, minced
kosher salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce to 1/3 cup. Let cool. Add vinegar, zest, shallots, chives and a pinch of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

8. Sally Schneider’s Blue Cheese Dressing
Serve this with a simple Romaine Salad
Perfect aside grilled steak, french fries and homemade bread — an all-time favorite meals
Adapted from Sally Schneider’s A New Way To Cook
Yield=1 1/2 cups

4 oz. blue cheese, such as Roquefort, Maytag Blue, Saga Blue — whatever you like
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. olive oil or walnut oil (Schneider recommends)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add more pepper if desired.

9. Cider Vinaigrette
This is especially nice with any salad containing fruit, such as this Peach and Beet Salad
Yield = 3/4 cup

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1½ tsp. honey
pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk mustard, honey, salt, pepper and vinegar. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to mix, but do not emulsify. Set aside.

10. Mint Vinaigrette
This is perfect with this melon and cucumber salad

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of best white wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar and loved it.)
½ teaspoon of dijon style mustard
3 tablespoons of finely minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon of finely minced parsley
big pinch of sugar
big pinch of salt

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake like crazy. Let stand a room temp for 40 minutes to meld the flavors.