Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing – From Our Secret French Recipe Book!

This basic but delicious balsamic vinaigrette dressing is one that's used in many Paris cafés and restaurants. But we add our own secret ingredient — a drop of maple syrup to neutralize the acidity of the balsamic vinegar. It's important to use real Dijon mustard and high-quality olive oil in this balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

You can add toasted, crushed nuts or a handful of dried cranberries to your salad if you like, but don't go overboard with the extras. What you'll discover is that simple, fresh ingredients and this vinaigrette make for a stunning entrée or main meal salad. This salad dressing has been a standard in our kitchen for twenty years. The trick is to not use too much maple syrup — just a dash mellows the flavour of the balsamic vinegar.


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Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe


Always taste the vinaigrette before tossing with the greens. It may need a bit more salt or a drop more maple syrup.

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 grind black pepper

In a small bowl, blend together the minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk in until it is well blended. It's important to keep blending until the ingredients are completely integrated.

Add in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Adjust the seasoning to taste. The maple syrup should nicely balance the flavour, it shouldn't be overly sweet. Set the dressing aside while you make the salad.


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Making the Salad

Salad in Eiffel Tower Glass

When salad is made fresh, it becomes a highlight of a meal. The most important rules on how to make great salads are wash, spin and rehydrate.

  • 5 oz Herb Salad Mix or lettuce of your choice
  • 1 carrot
  • ¼ cup Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Essential Equipment — salad spinner, a small whisk, and salad tongs.

Remove the greens from the package and place directly into the colander part of a salad spinner. If you're using lettuce leaves, separate each leaf and wash. Rinse well under the tap, using your hands to ensure that all the greens are washed. Spin well several times to make sure the majority of water is removed.

Now for the important step, place the greens into the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. This guarantees that they will become crisp and fresh. While the greens rehydrate, make the vinaigrette. The balsamic vinaigrette dressing can be made well ahead of time, but I usually make mine fresh.

Just before serving, in a large salad bowl, add the refreshed greens and, using a vegetable peeler, add long strips of carrot. Now it's time to toss. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette dressing and, with salad tongs, toss until the greens are completely covered and all the vinaigrette is integrated. There should never be a puddle of vinaigrette at the bottom of the bowl, check to make sure.

A great salad should be crisp, fresh and perfectly dressed. Unless it's the main course, serve salads in interesting dishes, like pretty Eiffel tower glasses, or small soup bowls.

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