A relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holiday in the Dordogne, France
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Classic French Vinaigrette

This recipe for classic French vinaigrette forms the basis for a good all-round dressing for any number of dishes that require a light but elemental presence...

A good dressing, or vinaigrette, should bring a dish together making it more than the sum of its parts.

So this is a basic vinaigrette which you can use to dress salads, hot and cold vegetables or as an alternative when something light and astringent is required (or for when you’ve just strained your perfectly prepared sauce through a sieve directly down the sink - you know who you are!).

A simple dressing like this should have a ratio of about one part vinegar to three or four parts oil and should be sharp, salty and fairly powerful.

And to help you remember that a classic vinaigrette should be kept simple, here’s a little ditty from Ogden Nash (and yes, I know my one has honey in it)…

A dressing is not a compot
A dressing is not a custard;
It consists of pepper and salt,
Vinegar, oil and mustard


4 tbsp cider - or white wine - vinegar
a ‘cheffy’ pinch of salt (app 1 level teaspoon)
a generous twist of black pepper
1 tsp Dijon (smooth) mustard
1 tsp runny honey
250 ml sunflower oil


Place the vinegar, salt and pepper into a roomy bowl and whisk to dissolve.

Add the mustard and honey and whisk to combine.

Now, add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly (in a cheffy way) until you have a nice smooth emulsion.

Taste (it should be salty, sharp, slightly sweet and powerful) and adjust with more ingredients as you see fit.

Don’t dress your salad until the very last minute or, instead of lovely crisp green leaves, you’ll have algae!

This vinaigrette will keep for up to a week in a sealed jar in the fridge. Just shake to re-emulsify and use as required.



You have permission to publish this article and recipe electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the following byline is included (a courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated):

"Jim Fisher is an English chef who runs relaxed friendly hands-on cooking courses in the Dordogne region of south west France. Contact him via: or Tel: 0033 (0)553 302405"































































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5 Day/5 Night Cooking Courses Include:

  • Expert hands-on tuition with British chef

  • All courses conducted in English

  • All cooking ingredients, equipment and aprons

  • A continental breakfast each day

  • Lunch each day

  • Dinner
    (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday)

  • Tea, coffee and wine

  • An evening meal on the day of your arrival

  • En suite centrally-heated accommodation

  • Recipe pack containing all the dishes cooked during your stay

  • Entrance fees to places visited

  • Private and secluded pool

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    Some of the things you'll be doing on the cooking course:

    Learn how to cook pastries, breads and soups

    Select and prepare the best fish and shellfish

    Butcher common joints of meat

    Cook classic French and Italian sauces

    Construct modern dressings

    Master the art of stylish contemporary food presentation