(From How to Cook by Delia Smith.)

It has to be said that this is always going to be a matter of personal taste according to how much acidity you like and what your preferences are as to flavourings and so on. I seem to suffer from some kind of mental handicap with dressings, which roughly means that other people’s salad dressings always seem to taste better than my own – my husband’s particularly. Here I have set out my favourite version of vinaigrette, but it’s adaptable: you can use red or white wine vinegar, a different mustard or no mustard; if you like it sharper, use a higher ratio of vinegar, and if you want it less sharp use a higher ratio of oil. The following combination is my own personal favourite. Vinaigrette dressing is best made and used as fresh as possible, because once the oil is exposed to the air it loses some of its fragrance. If you want to prepare things ahead, proceed up to the vinegar stage and leave adding the oil till the last minute.

Serves 4-6; halve the ingredients for 2-3


  • 1 rounded teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 rounded teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 dessertspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 dessertspoon sherry vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly milled black pepper

You will also need a pestle and mortar.

Begin by placing the salt in the mortar and crush it quite coarsely, then add the garlic and, as you begin to crush it and it comes into contact with the salt, it will quickly break down into a purée. Next add the mustard powder and really work it in, giving it about 20 seconds of circular movements to get it thoroughly blended. After that, add some freshly milled black pepper.

Now add the vinegars and work these in in the same way, then add the oil, switch to a small whisk and give everything a really good, thorough whisking. Whisk again before dressing the salad.

          This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course