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When I posted about the Auction Dinner in November, I mentioned making my favorite vinaigrette for the salad. I got so many requests for the recipe, I thought I should go ahead and share it with you.  Many people do not know how to make a basic vinaigrette.  This is really something that is great to learn because homemade vinaigrettes are so delicious and fresh tasting and far superior to anything you can buy in a bottle. You can also use them to dress vegetables, not just salads.  


This method starts out by grinding a garlic clove and anchovy with some coarse salt into a paste.  Don't be afraid of the anchovy - it gives a depth of flavor you won't get otherwise but even anchovy haters won't realize what they are eating.  I like to make mine in a mortar and pestle because it grinds everything into a nice paste, but if you don't have one you can use a small bowl and the back of a spoon.  It will be more difficult and you will have to mince or grate the garlic first into your bowl.

There's a lot of creative versions you can make out of a basic vinaigrette.  You can add herbs to it or experiment with different flavored oils.  I got some great flavored oils last year out in Park City, Utah at Mountain Town Olive Oil.  They sure come in handy.  I also bought some different flavored vinegars out there, too.  It's an easy way to change up your vinaigrettes.  




for a printable version, click here

2 servings
this amount of dressing is enough for a couple of large salads

I like to make my vinaigrette with an equal amount of oil and vinegar.  You can experiment to see how you like your dressing to taste.


  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
  • a few grinding of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar - you can use balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil



In the bowl of a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic clove, anchovy and salt together.  (If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can do this in a small bowl with the back of a spoon. Be sure to either mince or grate your garlic first so the spoon can mash it.)  Grind the ingredients until you have a smooth paste.  Add the pepper and vinegar and grind some more. Add the oil and blend some more until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Remember when you dress your salad greens, to do so lightly.  A little dressing goes a long way.

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Reader Comments (19)

This looks delicious although I never use balsamic vinegar in dressing and always go for the red wine vinegar, best quality I can find.

An excellent salad is a wondrous dish, not so easy to make since it depends on the best ingredients. Certainly, it's not a throw-away dish.

I make a lot of composed salads in the winter when the best lettuces are hard to come by. Please tell us what you use in the winter to make your salads.

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

We have a similar olive oil shop in Princeton, NJ. I always go in and look at the huge stainless vats but never buy anything (because I am afraid to change from my favorite Sicilian olive oil).

Gorgeous photos!

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterstacey snacks

Your recipes and your food photography are amazing! I love your site........

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolli

I always make my own vinaigrette's and this is one that I may need to add to my repertoire! p.s. love your new banner!

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersusan

Perfection! Great photos too!

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I love your new look Elaine, and you have my favorite pasta up there! I swear you can photograph a garbage can and I'd want to jump in it! I always make my own vinaigrette, once you do you'll never go back!

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarie

i swoon, swoon, SWOON every single time i come to your blog - and i'm being quite sincere when i say that i wish we were neighbors!! it has been years and years since we've actually bought bottled dressing because as you pointed out, making it from scratch is ridiculously simple and the taste just can't be beat!! beautiful photos to entice us as well. we really are going to have to meet, you know that, right?

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSMITH BITES

Hello, I buy my anchovies in tiny tins. What suggestions do you have for using the remaining anchovies?

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterclaudia

I want to try everything in your recipe index, Elaine. This vinaigrette - and your photography - is just so lovely. Thank you for sharing this. I'll really have to try it soon!

Great post!!!
Here in Brazil we have a similiar that calls Vinagrete that uses diced tomatoes, chopped onions, vinegar, salt and oil olive. We often use this sauce to accompany barbecues.

great idea to add the anchovy! i have always made my vinaigrette I was taught to make it as a kid and we would add lemon juice instead of vinegar and always a clove of mashed garlic

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertasteofbeirut

has anyone tried adding a little dijon mustard to this recipe? the lecithin in the mustard will bind the oil and vinegar together when the vinagrette is mixed right before serving. however, will this make the recipe french? just asking

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I too make my own vinegrettes. I'm loving those measuring spoons! I think I need a SET!

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJane m

SO beautiful!! And tasty! I LOVELOVELOVE your measuring spoons!!!

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I love homemade dressings - yours looks sooo good. Where did you get your lovely measuring spoons and will you be selling them in your store?

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Martin

From The Italian Dish:

Lisa: I love the spoons, too. They were a gift from my sister-in-law and so I'm afraid I won't be selling them in the store! I don't even know where she bought them. Thank you.

January 25, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Looks great, I've always preferred using vinaigrettes for salad as opposed to heavy dressing like Ranch etc.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRSA Certificate

I too, love your photography! Once I learned to make the basic vinaigrette, I hate buying any kind of it! Now, I love to experiment with different spices and seasonings to compliment the rest of the meal, I recently used smoked paprika, can you say yum!!! I bought a set of those spoons in a kitchen gift shop in Grand Junction, CO, and have wished I would have bought the matching measuring cups!!! Salute'

February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

My recipe is without garlic (because I think that garlic gives a flavor a bit too intense) and I prefer to use white wine vinegar.
As usual, the recipe is well explained.

Here's my recipe:

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMario Grazia

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