Shallot Vinaigrette

dsc_1360RECIPE #311, DAY #507


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Shallot Vinaigrette,” a variation of “Olive Oil Vinaigrette or French Dressing,” from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone*

TIMING: 20 minutes, most of it doing nothing

DIFFICULTY: Easy, so long as you can mince things

TOOLS: Knife and cutting board, a whisk, and a jar or dressing bottle


HEALTH: A little healthy-fat dressing on a salad is a health-match made in heaven. Do it.

dsc_1362EXPERIENCE: I keep telling myself that I should be making my dressings, instead of buying them. I mean, salad dressing is only a small convenience, as it takes only minutes and a few pantry ingredients to make. However, as much as I love a great homemade dressing, I also love some store-bought dressings that I have been known to say I would eat them, even on a shoe. (These include Annie’s Woodstock and Trader Joe’s Sriracha Ranch.)

This dressing was the first homemade dressing I ever made, and possibly even the first I ever tasted. We were a Hidden Valley/Kraft family growing up, and I was yet to be exposed to the wonderment of a well-made salad. I thought this dressing was amazing, and was surprised at how easy it was to make a salad dressing.

I recommend that–even if you keep a couple store-bought favorites on hand–you also keep a little container of home-made dressing, which you replenish every time it runs out. Don’t make it too far ahead, as its freshness is a factor in the charm. (I even have a special bottle with 5 recipes and measurements on the side. You dump the ingredients in, shake the bottle, and serve. It’s pretty awesome, although of course I have to keep experimenting with other recipes.)

This, or a homemade buttermilk ranch, is a great place to start.

NOTES:  I think I prefer the lemon juice here, but the vinegar seems more authentic.

Herbs should include whatever you have on hand, including parsley, tarragon, chive, or lovage. You could also use dill, if the mood is right.

Your olive oil–even more than your other ingredients–should be premium. Cold-pressed. Extra virgin. Top grade. Of the utmost quality you can afford. (Note: this is not the olive oil that you would be throwing in a pan to cook with.)


  1. Mince 1 shallot and place in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Let sit 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon optional fresh minced herbs. Whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil until emulsified. Serve.


Serve with a green salad. A French bistro salad would be as simple as fresh, leafy greens (like butterhead, Romain, or green leaf), torn into large chunks, and this dressing. Period.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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