Author Sanaë Lemoine's Classic French Vinaigrette
Sanaë Lemoine is a Brooklyn-based, Japanese-French author who published her first novel, The Margot Affair, this past summer. Sanaë previously worked in test kitchens and as a cookbook editor at Martha Stewart and Phaidon. Because of her background in food, the novel is rich in its descriptions of food and drink, offering an experience of travel and escape that feels particularly welcome given the circumstances. Sanaë has shared the recipe for a classic French Vinaigrette that makes an appearance in her novel.
"My parents couldn’t be more different in their style of cooking—my French father prefers salted butter and cream in everything; my Japanese mother eats miso soup and pickles for breakfast—but one dish they both unequivocally love is salad with vinaigrette. At every meal, lunch or dinner, there was always a simple green salad dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette. It’s a tradition I’ve carried over into adulthood—not just the salad itself, but the homemade vinaigrette, whisked in a small bowl and poured over lettuce."
"A vinaigrette is one of the simplest ways to elevate a salad. Yes, sometimes I'll drizzle olive oil and balsamic onto arugula, but most days I take a few minutes to make a French vinaigrette. I love the mellow sweetness of champagne vinegar combined with the fresh, peppery aroma of extra-virgin olive oil. And then, of course, the spiciness of Dijon mustard. We can’t live without it in our household. My husband’s father is from Dijon in Burgundy, and their family makes a vinaigrette with enough mustard to make you cough. It’s so thick it barely coats the lettuce leaves. I use less in my recipe—two teaspoons—just enough to provide a kick without overpowering the other flavors. I’ve also added a teaspoon of crème fraîche for a luscious texture. It balances the acidity of the vinegar and gives the dressing a lovely, subtle creaminess." - Sanaë Lemoine
"Vinaigrettes are very personal and should be adjusted to your taste: maybe you prefer a bit more acidity (add an extra drop of vinegar) or want more sweetness (a pinch of sugar does the trick) or less mustard (use one teaspoon in that case). Either way, make sure to taste your vinaigrette and play with the ratios to your liking. There’s no absolute rule here—use this recipe as a guide rather than a perfect formula." - Sanaë Lemoine