The Secret Ingredient (Dijon Mustard) Part 1: Perfect Vinaigrette

RECIPE: Perfect Vinaigrette
Perfect Vinaigrette Salad FIAF

A perfect salade verte, lightly tossed with Dijon vinaigrette

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You can be as fancy as you like in the kitchen, but if you don’t know the basics, you’ll never get anywhere.  And one basic I have been working on for a long time is the perfect basic vinaigrette.  I’ve written a million and one times about the restaurant Le Relais de l’Entrecôte in Paris, which now has an outpost (as yet untested by me!) in New York.  It’s a steak frites place, but they bring you this amazing green salad with mustard dressing and walnuts to start, and it was that dressing I was dying to emulate.

Vinaigrette and Whisk

Whisk until emulsified!

What’s amazing is that the proportions could not be more mindblowingly obvious.  One part mustard, one part vinegar, two parts oil, salt, and pepper.  I’m serious.  You cannot go wrong.  I’ve been testing for years.  The mustard emulsifies the dressing, and gives a nice bite.  French Dijon mustard is hotter than the stuff we get in the States–even by the same brand.  So if can get your hand on some hot Dijon mustard, it will be all the more authentic.  But the great thing about this vinaigrette is you can alter it any way you like to suit your mood.  Use a not-so-hot mustard, and cider vinegar for something gentle.  Switch up the oils, try a nut oil, an avocado oil, a rosemary or Meyer lemon or garlic-infused oil.  Buy a mustard flavored with tarragon or black currants.  Add a pinch of ground cumin or even curry powder (it’s delicious) to serve alongside an exotic dinner.  Grate garlic or shallot into the dressing.  Use a white balsamic vinegar, a fig vinegar, a pear and herb vinegar.  Chop up basil or parsley or mint and add it in.  Take this basic vinaigrette, made perfect, and thick, and creamy, and tangy thanks to the mustard, and you will have a million and one salads to match the million and one times I’ve mentioned L’Entrecôte.

Maille Mustard

My favorite!

I’m pretty excited about this month’s Secret Ingredient–I get to marry this column with my French in a Flash mindset.  Stay tuned for lots more thick, spicy, and tangy recipes this month!

Dressed Salad and Tomato Bruschetta

I served my salade verte for lunch with grape tomato bruschetta...just a suggestion!

Perfect Vinaigrette
makes 1/4 cup, serves 4

Perfect Vinaigrette Salad FIAFINGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


In the bottom of a large salad serving bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper with a small whisk until the mixture is completely homogenous.  If you don't have a whisk, use a fork.  Add the olive oil, and whisk again until completely homogenous and emulsified.  Tumble enough salad for four people on top, and toss gently to dress.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian

4 Responses to The Secret Ingredient (Dijon Mustard) Part 1: Perfect Vinaigrette

  1. Dianne Davis says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you! It’s my “go to” dressing for many things. Growing up, my sister nicknamed it “Daddy’s Delicious Dressing” or DDD as it never tasted the same when we tried to make it and his was perfect every time. My family loves it, too, especially when I use it to marinate steaks in (I use balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar in this case) and throw lots of chopped parsley in with it. Yum!

  2. Delish! I just posted a similiar recipe using white balsamic and walnut oil. A go-to vineaigrette will change your foodie life!