Cooking has always been a passion for me. Many years ago, I was lucky to have been an apprentice at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. My first jobs were to wash the salad greens and sweep the floor. I observed early on, that a great vinaigrette was all that is needed to make a perfect salad. The professionals made it look so easy, so I went home every night to practice with my family. Now this salad dressing is second nature for me. I hope this will encourage you to do the same.


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Whisk
  • Chef’s knife
  • Medium bowl

Mise en Place

  • 2 teaspoons shallot
  • ¼ cup fresh extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • A pinch of salt and a few twists of the pepper grinder or a small pinch of ground pepper

Step by Step

  • Peel the shallot.
  • Mince the shallot and put in the medium bowl.
  • Add the vinegar. If you can wait ten minutes, please do. The vinegar “cooks” the shallot.
  • Add the olive oil and mustard.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together.
  • Dip a lettuce leaf or your finger into the dressing, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Set aside and prepare the salad.

Makes enough dressing for one large salad or two small salads.

Be Inspired!

You can substitute minced garlic. You can use lemon juice or Balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.


To “cook” the shallot means to marinate it or soak in an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. The acid breaks down the shallot just like heat normally breaks down food, making it soft and sweet. This is kitchen chemistry.

Baby Romaine Salad Recipe

Mise en place

  • 2 heads of crisp little gem or baby romaine lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
  • Borage flowers (optional)

Step by Step

  • Wash and dry lettuce
  • Place in a bowl and add at least 3 Tablespoons of vinaigrette or to taste
  • Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper, if necessary
  • Arrange on a plate or shallow bowl and garnish with borage flowers
  • Serves 2

By Marilyn