This is included for the benefit of friends who think it is divine. It’s simply a decent freshly-made dressing in the tradition of French vinaigrettes. Nothing magical, but different by virtue of being made fresh from good ingredients. It has my own twist, but don’t let that put you off!
It works best if you get the real ingredients – they stand out a mile! For this you need a really good quality extra-virgin olive oil, the sort that bounce with zesty, fruity, peppery flavour. It’s worth investing in a decent one. Also, be careful not to buy the cheapo balsamic vinegar – go for one that says “aged” – it makes all the difference to depth of flavour, trust me.
A word on the relative quantities of oil to vinegar: I do it entirely by eye, but the best mix seems to be roughly 5/8 oil to 3/8 vinegar (or 2/3 to 1/3 if you want simplicity!) You may have different preferences, and indeed if you come from my parents’ generation may prefer to leave the oil out entirely, which would be a shame! One experiment that worked very well was to leave garlic cloves marinading in the olive oil for a few days, then subsequently use that oil in the dressing.
Note also that I have included sugar in addition to the sweet balsamic. This is entirely optional, but seems to work well to balance the mustard – just don’t go overboard with it! Unlike some dressings, I haven’t included lemon or a host of other potential ingredients, though you can experiment for yourselves.
Also on the mustard: not everybody likes the English mustard powder I prefer to use, so do substitute another if you prefer, though bear in mind that it does impact on the consistency of the dressing. Wholegrain mustards are fine if you like grainy mustards!
- Good quality olive oil, at room temperature
- Good quality balsamic vinegar
- English mustard powder, or other mustard (see above)
- Coarse sea salt (Maldon smoked is ideal)
- Fresh milled, or ideally cracked black pepper
- Garlic clove, crushed (optional)
- Pinch of sugar (optional)
Put a good slug of oil in a mixing bowl. Add mustard powder, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar, if used. Add the garlic clove, if used, then drip balsamic vinegar in a little at a time til the preferred quantity is reached.
This dressing can be made in advance and also keeps for ages in the fridge, though do cover with cling film, take out of the fridge an hour before serving and stir well before mixing with your preferred salad. What also works well is “topping up” your dressing with fresh ingredients.