Dijon Herb Vinaigrette Recipe | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Dijon Herb Vinaigrette Recipe | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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TIP OF THE DAY: Make An Herb Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

The recipe is below. But first, a brief history of salad dressing.

Salad greens were picked and eaten by man, likely from the furthest days of prehistory. But salad dressing came much later.

We know from the written record that the Babylonians used oil and vinegar for dressing greens nearly 2,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians added Asian spices to those basic ingredients.

But what about creamy salad dressings that are so popular in the U.S.?

Modern mayonnaise was created by the great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833), founder of the concept of haute cuisine. He blended vegetable oil and egg yolks into an emulsion; his recipe that became famous throughout Europe, and subsequently, the U.S. and the world [more about it].

Mayonnaise became the base of creamy salad dressings, even when buttermilk* or blue cheese was added.

Salads were favorites in the courts of European monarchs. Royal chefs often combined as many as 35 ingredients in one gigantic salad bowl.

Sometimes, the monarch’s favorite salad included few or no greens.

  • King Henry IV of England preferred boiled, diced new potatoes and sardines, tossed with an herb dressing.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots, liked boiled celery root diced and tossed with lettuce, creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil and hard-cooked egg slices.
    But the conventional dressing for green salads remained oil and vinegar. In the U.S.:

  • In 1912, Richard Hellmann, a deli owner in New York, began to sell his mayonnaise in wooden containers. A year later, he began to market his “blue ribbon mayonnaise in glass jars.
  • In 1919, Joe Marzetti, a restaurateur in Columbus, Ohio, began packaging his dressings to sell to restaurant customers in 1919.
  • In 1925, the Kraft Cheese Company entered the salad products business with the purchase of several regional mayonnaise manufacturers [source].
    Salad Dressing Today

    Most of the salad dressings sold in the U.S. have a mayonnaise base. The most popular bottled dressing in the U.S. is ranch, a re-naming of buttermilk dressing.

    Creamy dressings have four things that vinaigrettes don’t have: cholesterol, dairy, many more calories, and the antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids of olive oil.

    So if you’re a frequent salad eater who piles on the creamy dressing, get out the oil and vinegar and make green salads the healthy foods they should be. You can:

  • Use any kind of culinary oil—plan or flavored—but the healthiest ones for vinaigrettes, with the most monounsaturated fat besides olive oil, are avocado and canola (rapeseed) oils.
  • Use any vinegar, too, from plain wine vinegar to flavored vinegars or alternate vinegars like balsamic and rice vinegars (the different types of vinegar).
  • Use vinegar substitutes, such as citrus juice.
  • Use any type of mustard, plus mustard relatives like horseradish or wasabi. You can also substitute egg whites.
  • Use any spices and herbs.
  • Use splashes of other flavors, like anchovy paste, pomegranate juice, tahini, even tomato paste.
    Do the math, and you’ll realize that with all of the permutations and combinations†, you could make a different vinaigrette every day of the year.



  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • Pinch salt
    Fresh Herbs

  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, roughly chopped (substitute ¼ cup dill or basil ribbons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives (or sub green onions), minced

    1. WHISK together the first four ingredients. If you prefer, you can use the shaking technique:

    Combine the vinegar and garlic in a 1-pint jar and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add the mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and shake vigorously until emulsified, about 10 seconds.

    2. DRIZZLE the vinaigrette over the salad, add the herbs and toss. Serve immediately.


    [1] A vinaigrette, emulsified to prevent separation (photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

    Balsamic Vinaigrette
    [2] One of our favorites: balsamic vinaigrette (photo © Canola Eat Well For Life).

    [3] Parsley vinaigrette. Enough herbs will turn the vinaigrette green (photo © Hero Foodservice).

    Summer Salad With Nasturtium Leaves
    [4] Whether your ingredients bare basic or fancy green salad welcomes a vinaigrette. Potato and pasta salads, too (photo © Good Eggs).

    Chicken Grapefruit Salad
    [5] This arugula salad adds chicken, grapefruit, avocado and a tasty citrus-rice vinegar vinaigrette (photo © Nutmeg Nanny).

    FOOD TRIVIA: The word “salad” derives from the Latin herba salta, salted herbs. In ancient Rome, greens were usually seasoned with salty dressings, including garum.

    *There is also cream dressing, made with heavy cream and vinegar—no mayo. It originated in the area of Lyon, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.

    †If you never learned them in high school math, permutations and combinations calculate the various ways in which objects from a set may be selected; in this case, how many different recipes could be created from a set of ingredients.


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