Salads have been a staple of menus for countless years, and we’ve created a vinaigrette that offers an entirely new elegance to the classic meal starter. Slightly sweet and tangy, this sexy vanilla vinaigrette gives life and flavor to a boring salad. You can use this light, refreshing dressing to spruce up any old salad, but we think it perfectly complements our late-summer favorite of fig, feta and pecans.
Makes 3-4 servings
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon hot water
1 ½ tablespoons honey (or to taste)
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
Place the oil, vanilla bean pods and seeds into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the oil up to a low simmer, and then remove from heat and let stand at least 1 hour to infuse the vanilla flavor. Strain the oil through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla pod (the seeds will remain in the oil). Cool completely.
Combine all ingredients except the oil in a small immersion blender or food processor, pulsing until the mixture is completely blended and smooth. Slowly add the oil while blending until the mixture is completely emulsified. Transfer to a small bowl or squeeze bottle and chill before dressing salad.
[Chef’s Notes: If you can’t find a vanilla bean, feel free to substitute 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. The dressing will keep well refrigerated in a sealed container for 3-4 weeks.]
Immersion blender or small food processor
Fine mesh sieve
Build salad as desired, then toss or drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette.
Recipe and photo by Monica Glass