This is the true Italian or French dressing — so basic, it’s scary. But when made with a good-tasting vinegar and a flavorful oil, this dressing is a star.
This is the base you use to make Dijon dressing, Bleu Cheese, Ranch, anything your appetite desires.
Find a pint jar (2 cups) with a screw top. You’re making this by taste, not by exact measurement, so the quantities are approximations; and be sure to taste as you go. This is about what tastes good to you.
Combine the vinegar and oil in the jar, shake, taste, and then add more oil or vinegar to balance. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use at room temperature, shaking to blend before using.
Add freshly chopped or dried herbs and minced garlic to the basic dressing, or rub the salad bowl with a crushed clove of garlic then add the herbs directly to the bowl with the greens.
Pour about 1/2 cup of the dressing into the bottom of a large salad bowl, add a generous tablespoon of Dijon mustard, some fresh tarragon and 1 shallot, minced. Blend with a fork, add the greens and toss.
Add to Dijon Dressing brown sugar or honey to taste. A tablespoon of mayonnaise makes it creamy.
Take a little classic vinaigrette, blend in bleu cheese and garlic to taste.
Add sour cream, mayonnaise and minced onion to French Bleu Cheese Dressing.
Add classic vinaigrette, minced garlic, chopped parsley, chopped scallions, and chopped basil with equal amounts of mayonnaise and buttermilk and mix well.
From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright© 2012 by American Public Media.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.