If there is one thing I am most picky about in the world, it is salads. Not because I do not like them. A good salad for me is one of the best things on the earth to eat. No. It is because most salads that I have tried from scratch bore me. I hate being bored.
When I discovered that Cook’s Illustrated had a “foolproof vinaigrette” recipe, I sighed and got my hopes up a little and gave it a shot.
I bought their special COOK’S Illustrated – All-Time BEST RECIPES – Special Collector’s Edition for myself for Christmas. I learn so much from their Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I always find it an investment. Even if I do not like the recipes, I often find I learn something and as you know, I am the biggest foodie geek around.
Most of the classic ingredients were in the recipe but I was intrigued when I saw mayonnaise listed. Dawn Yanagihara is the author of this particular recipe. She is the author of Waffles: Sweet, Savory, Simple and True Blood Drinks and Bites.
She notes that instead of using a raw egg for emulsification purposes she added a little bit of mayonnaise (along with the Dijon mustard). This instantly added some credibility to the recipe because I had learned this technique in A Modern Take on the Mother Sauces with James Peterson.
I made the recipe with 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp minced shallots, 1/2 tsp mayo, 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/8 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper and 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.
I love shallots and know that a lot of classic vinaigrettes use them. I was hoping that the recipe would have some garlic too because I like my dressings to have serious flavour punch. She suggests running the inside of the salad bowl with a peeled clove of garlic before adding the salad. Which I skipped by accident. So close!
I used Miracle Whip’s Olive Oil mayonnaise which I combined with the vinegar, shallows, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
I whisked until it was “milky in appearance” with no mayo lumping going on. Then I slowly and carefully drizzled in the olive oil, whisking the entire time.
It emulsified perfectly which is half the battle of making a fantastic salad dressing.
I drizzled half the small container of salad dressing on a pasta salad I made, about 2 tbsp. It was a very light, fresh and lovely salad. Totally civilized. It will probably not offend the senses of people who eat it who are picky. For me? It was good but a tad underwhelming. It is very… “safe.” Hence the “foolproof” is prevalent in the flavour as well as in the execution. I was impressed but not super inspired.
I give this recipe four out of five wooden spoons. Next time I will make it with balsamic vinegar and more mustard, as suggested for a dressing for more assertive greens. I think this is just too delicate for me. I want more punch so I will also probably add some garlic.
If you are looking for a solid vinaigrette recipe to make for picky eaters, this is a good choice.
What beautiful photos and an interesting assessment, Suzie. I’ll be thinking about the relationship of “foolproof” and “safe” for quite some time!
Thank you Jamie! Oh what a difference sunlight makes, get me all inspired. 🙂 I am glad you found it an interesting idea. I thought it was quite fascinating to have something that was foolproof in the “best of” edition of their mag. I was hoping for both!
Sandra Wates says
Hi, I enjoyed your review of this recipe. I invested in the same “Best Recipes” cookbook several years ago, and I feel the same way about the Cooks Illustrated magazines. For some reason, I have never made a vinaigrette, although I generally am not satisfied with the taste of store-bought dressings. I am going to try this recipe tonight! I like your blog.
Thank you Sandra! So glad you enjoyed the review and thank you for your comment. I should really get that “Best Recipes” cookbook, what a smart investment. Hope you liked the recipe for the dressing!
This is the nastiest tasting dressing I have ever tasted. I followed the recipe and used good products. I threw a gorgeous salad away, as I trusted it would be “fool proof” It reminded me of the time, I juiced Leeks and chugged it down.
Luckily it was only a small amount. UGH! You can’t believe everything you read online…
Suzie the Foodie says
I am sorry to hear that their recipe was not a good fit for you Steeny. I found it a bit basic but it is a classic method and recipe. Next time dip of the greens to try it first and then if it isn’t a good fit, perhaps you can find a way to make it something you would like.