Salad dressings and vinaigrettes are terrific ways to use up little bits of leftover pesto and tapenade.  If you have a mini food processor, it is fast to whip up dressings and cleaning the device is a snap.  That said, you can use a blender, traditional food processor, jar with a lid, or a bowl and a whisk.

We've all heard that old saying about oil and vinegar not mixing.  It should be revised to say that oil and vinegar don't mix easily or even oil and vinegar will only mix for a while.  By adding an emulsifier, such as mustard, to your dressing, the oil and vinegar will blend together.  Slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar and mustard while rapidly blending, and the mixture will hold together for a while. 

To make a classic vinaigrette, blend 3 - 4 parts of good quality oil into 1 part vinegar or other acidic liquid such as citrus juice.  Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. > The fun part comes with the variations. You can add minced garlic as well as your choice of fresh or dried minced herbs.  Add a tablespoon of Pesto or Tapenade to your blended vinaigrette for a chunky texture.  Replace all or part of the oil with your favorite Bread Dipping Oil or Infused Oil.  The combinations are infinite. 

Two of my favorites vinaigrettes are Fig Balsamic and Cranberry Vinaigrette.  The addition of a couple of teaspoons of good quality Dijon mustard helps 'hold' these vinaigrettes together.  In other words, they won't separate as quickly as just oil and vinegar. You can find the recipes for both of these vinaigrettes in our recipe section.

Classic French Vinaigrette Recipe

2 tablespoons vinegar (varietal wine or sherry works best)
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a deep bowl or blender/food processor, combine the vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Whisk or pulse to blend well.  While continuing to blend, slowly add the oil in a thin stream.  To taste, dip a small piece of lettuce in the dressing.  Adjust seasonings to taste.   

These proportions will dress about 6 cups of loosely packed salad greens. 

To dress the greens, add about half of the dressing to the bottom of a large bowl.  Toss the greens into the vinaigrette.  Clean hands work well for tossing.  Add additional dressing as needed, without drowning the lettuce with dressing. 


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