My mother taught me to make dressing early. Her recipe was always Dijon mustard, olive oil, and vinegar—she learned it while at university in Paris. It’s similar to dressings served at brasseries and bistros across France and the one in Paris that ruined me for all other salad dressings. I still remember the puckery mustard-based dressing, sweet with the hum of finely minced shallots, clinging to bitter lettuce or silky swatches of butter or Bibb lettuce. Thanks to this delicious dressing, lettuce became my favorite vegetable.
Then as a newly minted adult with her own chef’s knife, I tried my hand at making the dressing I’d had in Paris. I minced some shallots, tried to sauté them without burning to tame their pungency, and ended up with a lot of dirty dishes. So tiresome! Plus, who has the time?
The shocking revelation that I could make this dressing at home quickly and easily in a microwave came from Rachel Ray. There she was on TV, adding finely minced shallots to olive oil and microwaving them—this softens the shallots, gets rid of their sharpness, and flavors the olive oil. She didn’t even need to lug out a pan! I was stunned and now employ this genius trick when making my favorite 2-minute dressing.
The 2-Minute Salad Dressing Ingredients
Shallots: You need a finely minced shallot. Make sure you mince them as finely as possible, so they can break down quickly as they poach in the olive oil. Red onion—about 1/4 cup minced— is a great substitute if you don’t have shallots.
Acid: You can really play around here. Red wine is typical in France. If I have it on hand, I love the bite of Vinaigre de Banyuls, a French red wine vinegar that’s been aged for five years. Any good-quality vinegar will do and is a crucial for getting a nice tart dressing, such as Sherry vinegar, a mix of your favorite vinegars, or fresh lemon juice. Make the recipe work for you.
Emulsifier: I like the addition of Dijon mustard for many reasons. First, it emulsifies the dressing, making it smooth and creamy. Another reason? It saves me from waiting for the shallot and olive oil mixture to cool down. Since I keep the mustard in the refrigerator, it's quite cold. When I add it to the microwaved shallots and olive oil, it cools the oil down right away. I do not recommend using yellow or whole-grain mustard—you want the smooth texture and wine flavor in Dijon.
The 2-Minute Microwave Dressing Recipe
This recipe yields about 1 cup of dressing—enough for dinner, plus extra to keep in the refrigerator for five to seven days. Proportionally scale the recipe up or down based on how much dressing you need.
- One finely minced shallot, about 1/4 cup
- 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
How to the Make 2-Minute Salad Dressing
Place the shallots and olive oil in a microwave-safe container, like a glass measuring cup. I use an old lidded jar or a dedicated dressing container to store leftovers in afterwards. Microwave the shallots in the oil in two 30-second increments so you can make sure they don’t get too brown.
Stir in the vinegar and Dijon, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. You may need to add more vinegar if it’s not punchy enough or more olive oil if it’s too acidic. Store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, which will keep for five to seven days.