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Basic French Vinaigrette Salad Dressing with Variations

There is nothing like a fresh salad with homemade vinaigrette

Growing your lettuce and greens organically gives you a better tasting salad and topping it with a simple vinaigrette makes it taste even better. Tricia has shared her recipe and added ways to vary the vinaigrette to suite your tastes. Watch our video on how to grow these greens for your salads.

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing

To make a 1/2 cup of dressing:

  • Put 1 tablespoon of real Dijon Mustard in mixing bowl. I like to use the Maille brand, made in Canada. It is not certified organic but has natural ingredients and no sugar.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar* (your choice of type, see below)
  • Mix well
  • Slowly mix 3 tablespoons of oil (your choice of type, see below) until completely blended.
  • Add your choice of seasonings to taste

When mixed properly, they do not separate. I like to use a spoon for mixing. Most recipes call for less Dijon Mustard and more vinegar, but in my family we prefer a less vinegary flavor.
*Fresh Citrus Juices and other juices can be substituted or used as half of the vinegar component.

Vary your Vinaigrette by changing Vinegar

There are many types of vinegar to choose from and your dressing’s taste will change depending on what you use.

Red Wine Vinegar – made from fermented red wine and imparts a sharp taste.
Balsamic Vinegar – made from pressed grapes and aged like wine. May require less than other types due to the strength, some may give a chocolate or carob taste.
Distilled White Vinegar – made from distilled alcohol that is fermented and imparts a strong flavor.
Apple Cider Vinegar – made from pressed apples that are fermented and has a very mellow flavor.
White Wine Vinegar – made from white wine and is more mellow than red wine vinegar.
Champagne Vinegar – made from champagne and has a light, fresh taste.
Sherry Vinegar – made from sherry and is aged in oak for at least 6 months. Has very a complex, rich flavor.
Rice Vinegar – made from rice wine and has a sweeter and more mellow flavor than other vinegars.

Choosing Your Oils

Olive Oil – if you decided to use olive oil for your vinaigrette, choose Extra Virgin or Virgin olive oil. I use “cold pressed” olive oil which uses minimal heat and no chemicals. As a result they retain the highest amount of phytochemicals and nutrients compared to “pure olive oil”, “olive oil” or “light olive oil”, which have been refined.
Sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn, grapeseed, hemp, flaxseed, and walnut – these oils provide essential fatty acids called linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Best oils for vitamin E content include grapeseed oil, almond oil, and avocado oil.
Walnut, almond, hazelnut, and flaxseed – these nut oils have a distinctive rich taste. You can use them in combination with another less rich tasting oil.
Truffle oil – should be mixed with only a mild wine vinegar so the flavor is not covered up. Caution, there are many artificially flavored truffle products. Find one that uses real truffles for flavoring.

Herbs and Other Seasonings

Salt, pepper, dried herbs such as Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Tarragon, Lavender, or fresh herbs such as Cilantro, Parsley and Shiso etc are great additions to your vinaigrette. The amount you add will really depend on your tastes. Here are some suggestions for herb and vinegar combinations:

  • Tarragon and garlic with white wine vinegar
  • Lemon balm, lemongrass, and lemon verbena in champagne vinegar
  • Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in sherry vingegar
  • Fennel and thyme in rice vinegar
  • Lavender in cider vinegar
  • Oregano and basil in red wine vinegar
  • Shallots – many French cooks mix finely chopped shallots with the mustard and vinegar mix and let it sit for a few minutes before adding the oil.
  • Garlic – In the south of France, cooks will do the same with garlic as the shallots.

Choose your dressing ingredients based on the greens and ingredients of your salad

Here are some favorite combinations of salads and vinaigrette.

  • Mache, Roasted Beets, Walnuts, Gruyere Cheese with a vinaigrette of White Wine Vinegar, Walnut Oil, Tarragon, Salt and Pepper.
  • Arugula, Mandarine pieces, almonds with a vinaigrette of fresh fennel, Champagne Vinegar/Fresh squeezed orange or other citrus juice, Olive oil, crushed fennel seed, salt and pepper.
  • Bibb lettuce, avocado, crab meat, fresh grapefruit sections with a vinaigrette of half Avocado oil/Ketchup and Mayo mix (no mustard) and a few teaspoons of grapefruit or lemon juice.
  • Frisee, fresh crispy bacon chopped, poached egg with a vinaigrette of Sunflower oil or Truffle oil, Red Wine Vinegar, No salt only pepper.
  • Watercress and Cucumber with a vinaigrette of any light oil and Rice Vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Tomato, Burrata, fresh Basil or Shiso with a vinaigrette of Olive oil, aged syrupy balsamic (no mustard) salt and pepper.
  • Spinach, Hard Boiled Egg, Fresh Mushrooms, Crispy Fried Prosciutto or Serrano ham morsels with a vinaigrette of Olive oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Dijon Mustard and a teaspoon of honey (mixed with the mustard and vinegar.

Grow some salad greens and lettuce, enjoy some new salad combinations, and grow organic for life!

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