Traditional French vinaigrette with the herbs of your choice.
Makes enough for one large salad serving 4 or more, or several smaller ones.
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (plus a little extra if needed at the end)
1-2 Tablespoons finely minced shallot
2 teaspoons finely chopped herbs of your choice (thyme, parsley, mint and basil are all very nice)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more if needed (or half this amount if using table salt)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A few grinds or pinches of black pepper
1. Choose a medium "non-reactive" bowl, such as stainless steel or glass, to work in. Add the vinegar, shallot, herbs, salt and mustard to the bowl and use a wire whisk to mix them together completely.
2. Begin whisking the vinegar mixture, and slowly dribble the olive oil into it in a thin stream so that it can be instantly whisked in and will form an emulsion. If you start to see drops of oil on the surface of the vinaigrette, stop and vigorously whisk until they disappear, before you add more. Keep adding the oil, whisking as you go, until it has all been incorporated. (Psst - like science? Wondering what an "emulsion" is? You can check out this post from my Make Your Own Lunch class to learn all about it.)
3. Whisk in a few pinches or grinds of black pepper. Lightly dip a lettuce leaf into the vinaigrette and taste it. Adjust the vinegar, oil, salt or pepper if needed until it is absolutely delicious, then serve.
Not only can you drizzle this onto your salad just before serving it, but you can also use it as a marinade or sauce with poultry or fish.
You can make this ahead and keep some in a glass jar for later. But if keeping for more than about a day, you'll want to keep it in the refrigerator - the herbs and shallots can cause it to go bad at room temperature.
Another fun fact about emulsion: this vinaigrette would remain emulsified at room temperature indefinitely! But the tenuous friendship you have coaxed between oil and vinegar will only last at warmer temperatures. Once you transfer the vinaigrette to the fridge (which, alas, you do have to do), they will separate and never again form an emulsion. (So sad.)