I tried Samin Nosrat’s favorite vinaigrette recipe, the one she says is good enough to drink. Apparently it makes a plate of greens into a feast, so I made up a batch, and here’s what I think~
The sherry vinaigrette that changed Samin Nosrat’s world
A little backstory: I heard about this from Samin Nosrat on her podcast Home Cooking. Samin’s the food writer, chef, and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (she’s great, if you don’t know her, look her up.) She first met the dressing at one of her favorite NYC restaurants, Via Carota. It’s in the West Village. She loved it so much she convinced the owners to give her the recipe. She made it and is now obsessed. She wants to pour it over everything and, yes, drink it. (Here’s the original New York Times article where she talks about it, if you’re interested.)
This vinaigrette recipe may not sound like much, and, in one sense, it isn’t: just some good olive oil, a few common ingredients, and a good shake is all that’s involved. But something happens in there to morph those ingredients into the perfect dressing. Samin thinks it’s the warm water, which sounds plausible, it’s an unusual ingredient. I’m not so sure, but one thing is for certain:
this dressing is the bomb.
What you’ll need to make the best vinaigrette:
- shallot ~ you should always have these in your pantry, they’ll last a long time in a cool dark place and they’re little flavor powerhouses!
- vinegar ~ the recipe calls for sherry vinegar, which is my absolute favorite, it’s got a rich smooth flavor. It’s an aged Spanish vinegar made from sherry wine.
- olive oil ~ extra virgin, of course.
- warm water ~ the secret!
- Dijon mustard ~ creamy style.
- grainy mustard ~ the grainier the better.
- honey ~ you might experiment with maple syrup or other sweetener.
- thyme ~ fresh is best, but dried will work.
- fresh garlic ~ garlic powder works too but nothing gives you that kick like fresh garlic.
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Does this salad dressing live up to the hype?
I have to say yes! And I definitely wasn’t expecting to feel that way. When you look at the list of ingredients there’s nothing out of the ordinary.
But the magic is in the details. Maybe, like Samin thinks, it’s all about the water. The theory is that the water tones down the acidity of the vinegar and makes the dressing milder, more drinkable. I agree that this dressing is less sharp than what I usually make, and I’m now convinced it’s a better way to go.
Also make sure you’re respecting the ingredients. Good olive oil is essential. Good sherry vinegar is too. Shallots make a huge difference, as does quality mustard (I use Maille and Grey Poupon.) Fresh thyme and garlic make anything amazing.
Honey isn’t a unique ingredient, but keeping it in check is key. Have you noticed how sickly sweet commercial dressing has become? This recipe includes a touch of honey which doesn’t read as sweet, but works with the other ingredients to subtly counter that sharpness.
My definition of a great salad dressing? One that excites me about that tub of mixed greens I dutifully buy every week.
This dressing has reinvigorated my cold weather salad making. I keep a bottomless jar of it in the fridge and that sits front and center to remind me to eat fresh greens no matter what the temperature outside. Here are a few salads you can use your new favorite dressing on ~
A great salad dressing can make a pile of greens crave-worthy, and that’s a beautiful thing. Thanks Samin!!
The Best Vinaigrette
- 1 shallot, peeled and very finely minced
- 2 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon good sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp warm water
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp grainy mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 clove garlic, put through a garlic press
- coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Put the minced shallot in a strainer and rinse briefly. Let drain.
- Put the drained shallot into a mason jar (or small bowl) and add the vinegar and warm water. Let sit for a few minutes.
- Whisk in the oil, mustards, honey, thyme, garlic and some salt and pepper.
- Taste the dressing to adjust any of the element. Then cap and refrigerate until needed. Give it a good shake when ready to use.