Step 1In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper. When the salt has dissolved, whisk in the olive oil. Serve on salads and other dishes, whisking again just before using.
Honey-mustard vinaigrette: Replace red wine vinegar with white wine vinegar, and whisk in 1 tablespoon each honey and stone-ground or Dijon mustard before adding the olive oil. A beautiful accompaniment to grilled steak or salmon.
Cilantro-basil vinaigrette: Replace red wine vinegar with white balsamic vinegar and mix in a few tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro and basil before adding olive oil to the mixture.
Citrus vinaigrette: Replace the vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon or lime (or any other citrus) juice. Taste for seasoning -- depending on how acidic the citrus is, you may want to add more oil to balance the tartness. Great with grilled fish or an avocado salad.
Warm cider vinaigrette: Simmer half a cup of cider vinegar, some chopped shallots, salt and pepper until reduced to one-third cup. Remove from the heat and whisk in two-thirds cup of oil. Serve over a salad of dandelion or other slightly bitter greens, some bacon lardons and warm goat cheese.
Sherry-walnut vinaigrette: Replace red wine vinegar with sherry vinegar; whisk in walnut oil instead of olive oil.
Champagne-hazelnut vinaigrette: Replace red wine vinegar with Champagne vinegar and whisk in hazelnut oil. Terrific with a salad of baby spinach, sliced strawberries and a handful of crushed, toasted hazelnuts.
Jalapeno-lime-cilantro vinaigrette: Replace red wine vinegar with equal parts white wine vinegar and lime juice. In a food processor or blender, blend the vinegar, lime juice, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro and half a seeded jalapeno; with the motor still running, slowly pour in olive oil.
Anchovy vinaigrette: In a food processor or blender, process two to three anchovy fillets and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard with the red wine vinegar, then slowly pour the olive oil in with the motor running. This is great on steamed asparagus, poached leeks or romaine salad.
Parsley vinaigrette for roasted meat or chicken: After you've roasted or pan-seared meat or chicken, blend 3 tablespoons of the hot pan juices in a food processor or blender with salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons fresh parsley; slowly pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil with the motor running.
Garlic vinaigrette: In a mortar and pestle or using the flat side of a knife, mash together 1 large clove of garlic with the salt, then add the mixture to the vinegar and pepper before whisking in the olive oil. Or add a tablespoon of roasted garlic instead. Terrific with grilled steak or lamb chops.
Ginger-sesame vinaigrette: Replace red wine vinegar with rice wine vinegar, stir in 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger and whisk in a mixture of 1 part toasted sesame oil and 3 parts canola oil.