IN ITS SIMPLEST form, a vinaigrette, or French salad dressing, is one part vinegar or lemon juice to three or four parts olive or vegetable oil. It is seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Mixed extremely well just before using, the vinaigrette is smooth and delicate tasting; if not well blended, it can be harsh and oily. If the oil and vinegar used have excellent flavor, nothing else is needed to dress a mixed green salad.
Dijon mustard is used as a basic vinaigrette ingredient by many chefs. Besides adding flavor, it also acts as an emulsifier, holding the oil and vinegar in suspension longer. Other ingredients added to a vinaigrette are chopped fresh herbs, chopped shallots, chopped hardcooked egg, and garlic.
I generally keep a bottle of vinaigrette in the refrigerator ready to use, shaking it well just before pouring it over a salad.
Using the proportions shown here, it’s easy to scale this recipe up or down. I use a blender whenever making large quantities of the dressing.