The Secret Ingredient (Dijon Mustard): Simple Vinaigrette Recipe


You can be as fancy as you like in the kitchen, but if you don't know the basics, you'll never get anywhere. And one basic I have been working on for a long time is the perfect basic vinaigrette. I've written a million and one times about the restaurant Le Relais de l'Entrecôte in Paris, which now has an outpost (as yet untested by me!) in New York. It's a steak frites place, but they bring you this amazing green salad with mustard dressing and walnuts to start, and it was that dressing I was dying to emulate.
What's amazing is that the proportions could not be more obvious. One part mustard, one part vinegar, two parts oil, salt, and pepper. I'm serious. You cannot go wrong. I've been testing for years. The mustard emulsifies the dressing, and gives a nice bite. French Dijon mustard is hotter than the stuff we get in the States--even by the same brand. So if you can get your hand on some hot Dijon mustard, it will be all the more authentic.

But the great thing about this vinaigrette is you can alter it any way you like to suit your mood—use a not-so-hot mustard, and cider vinegar for something gentle. Switch up the oils, try a nut oil, an avocado oil, a rosemary or Meyer lemon or garlic-infused oil. Buy a mustard flavored with tarragon or black currants. Add a pinch of ground cumin or even curry powder (it's delicious) to serve alongside an exotic dinner. Grate garlic or shallot into the dressing. Use a white balsamic vinegar, a fig vinegar, a pear and herb vinegar. Chop up basil or parsley or mint and add it in. Take this basic vinaigrette, made perfect, and thick, and creamy, and tangy thanks to the mustard, and you will have a million and one salads to match the million and one times I've mentioned L'Entrecôte.

I'm pretty excited about this month's Secret Ingredient—stay tuned for lots more thick, spicy, and tangy recipes this month!

Recipe Facts

Active: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • Extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In the bottom of a large salad serving bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper with a small whisk until the mixture is completely homogenous. If you don't have a whisk, use a fork. Add the olive oil, and whisk again until completely homogenous and emulsified. Tumble enough salad for four people on top, and toss gently to dress.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
123 Calories
14g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 123
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 17%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 205mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 10mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)