• Yield: 2 cups, doubles easily

  • Time: 5 minutes prep, 5 minutes total


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.


  • 1/2 cup good-tasting vinegar (i.e. a blend of rice vinegar and balsamic, or cider, wine or sherry vinegar)

  • 1/2 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


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.

Herbs & Garlic

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. 

Dijon Dressing

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. 

Honey Mustard Dressing

Add to Dijon Dressing brown sugar or honey to taste. A tablespoon of mayonnaise makes it creamy.

French Bleu Cheese Dressing

Take a little classic vinaigrette, blend in bleu cheese and garlic to taste. 

Creamy Bleu Cheese

Add sour cream, mayonnaise and minced onion to French Bleu Cheese Dressing.

Ranch 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.

Sally Swift
Sally Swift is the managing producer and co-creator of The Splendid Table. Before developing the show, she worked in film, video and television, including stints at Twin Cities Public Television, Paisley Park, and Comic Relief with Billy Crystal. She also survived a stint as segment producer on The Jenny Jones Show.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.