I keep a single homemade salad dressing—made with red wine vinegar, canola oil, and Dijon mustard—in my fridge. It's versatile, simple, and stays creamy and emulsified for weeks at a time. It's my war against bottle salad dressings because it's way better and just as convenient. The recipe comes from Thomas Keller, so you might even call it the Platonic Ideal of salad dressing.
But lately I've been drawn to interesting takes on the classic vinaigrette formula. Recently I swooned over Rick Bayless' guajilo chili dressing. Now I've fallen for this recipe from Bon Appetit.
Paprika and saffron are the stars here, both of which boost the color to a vivid orange-red and give it a round, mellow flavor. It coats sweet tomatoes, which release their juices and become part of the dressing. The recipe calls for frisee salad, which is more sturdy and bitter, but it was also delicious with a simple mix of field greens—the lightness of a salad with a little protein to turn it into dinner.
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic or rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, or equivalent chopped tomato pieces
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 head frisee or 4 to 5 good handfuls mixed field greens
In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, shallots, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Whisk to combine, then slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to create a dressing. Sprinkle in half the thyme and add the tomatoes, mixing to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and remaining paprika and thyme. Heat a skillet with the remaining olive oil over medium heat and saute breasts on both sides until cooked through. Remove the chicken and turn off the heat. Add the vinaigrette to the pan to deglaze and warm through.
Slice the chicken and divide the frisee or greens among 4 plates. Fan the chicken on the salads, then spoon the vinaigrette over and serve immediately.