Serious Salad: Julia Child's Vinaigrette Dressing
He-llo Serious Eaters! It's Jooo-lia Child! I hope you don't mind my borrowing your Serious Salad correspondent's account here, but I couldn't resist nipping in to say hello and talk about salads. Just to remind you, in the wake of celebrating my Beef Bourguignon, I also did enjoy the occasional classic salad, despite my jest that diet food was what you should eat while waiting for the steak to cook!
In fact, one of my earliest food memories was seeing the king (or should I say emperor) of salads made by its creator Caesar Cardini! It was quite dramatic as a nine-year-old child to see Caesar make his eponymous salad with a flourish of tossed lettuce leaves and hear the smart crack of the egg against the bowl. Of course, it was made with only the best Parmesan cheese—none of that dreadful talcum powder in a green can!
Salads should be enjoyed: the French understand that a salad should not be a penitent meal for the faddish and fat-phobic. So, for your salad-making pleasure, I'm sharing with all of you once again my favorite vinaigrette dressing, a simple blend of shallots, mustard, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. You can sprinkle it on some lovely salad greens or toss it upon some cold chicken or whatever you happen to find in your larder that night. A lovely crusty baguette as an accompaniment is a must!
The key to this vinaigrette is the ratio. Rather than the usual proportion of 1:3 of vinegar to oil, it uses a 1:5 ratio: the proportions of a very dry martini. Especially if you're having wine with your salad, as you should, the 1:3 ratio can be overly acidic.
Like a fine martini, I recommend that much like the famous spy James Bond suggests, this dressing should be shaken, not stirred (a bit of a tribute to my service for the OSS, I suppose). You can also whisk the ingredients together but be careful to ensure that everything is THOROUGHLY blended to fully appreciate the flavors. Bon Appetit, serious eaters!
Alright, so long Julia! Now back to HeartofGlass.
HeartofGlass's note: I admit it was counterintuitive for me to use that much oil in a salad dressing. Okay, full disclosure—during my "bad old days" as a dieting non-Serious Eater I used to dump about half a bottle of 10-calorie a serving dressing on my salad.
However, I've realized that to some degree my more-is-better American attitude, when it comes to salad dressing, wasn't bringing me any additional flavor. A dressing, after all, should enhance, rather than overwhelm the salad. I used white wine vinegar for a more summery taste (Julia only suggests wine vinegar). But don't tell her that I thew some grilled Quorn on top of my mixed greens and summer tomato salad.