Basic anchovy vinaigrette
What's gonna happen
A solid salad is sometimes just the thing after a long day at the office – you want something light and easy after sitting down for hours, but you don't want to compromise on taste. In this recipe, the salty, fishy tang of the anchovy balances well with the fresh acidity of lemon. Though anchovies make folks a bit squeamish on first look, they are a perfect pantry staple for their pungent full flavors and undeniable shelf life. To balance out the anchovy, raw garlic adds an understated and much-needed bitterness. Vigorous whisking will cause the vinaigrette to take on a pleasantly creamy look and texture. Trust me on this one.
Slices of tomato and grates of salty parmesan over a sturdy lettuce – think romaine or bibb – are my recommendations for accompaniments, but any of your favorite salad accoutrement will do. A fine grilled char on the lettuce adds a whole new depth, and is the perfect summertime go-to. My mom loves to slice up crusty bread to dip into this, as well – it's a very versatile vinaigrette.
What to know
Salad dressings and vinaigrettes are the perfect opportunity to use extra virgin olive oil, and, more specifically, fancy extra virgin olive oil. This particular oil is highly refined and offers more texture than it does flavor; to be classified as "extra virgin," an olive oil must contain less than 1% oleic acid as stipulated by a very real International Olive Council. For heat reasons, you should never cook or sear with the extra virgin olive oil, but using it as a dip, topping or a finish – anything that keeps it in its rawest form – showcases the flavor.
Like wine, you can learn to taste the subtleties between lower and higher quality products with practice and experience. For an affordable standard option, I'd recommended California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil; a dreamy splurge of an EVOO is the award-winning Oro del Desierto Coupage.
What you need
4 anchovies, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
Black pepper, freshly cracked, to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
How it works
With a mortar and pestle, crush anchovy fillets, garlic, salt and pepper. When the mixture reaches a smooth puree, use a rubber spatula to scrape the entirety into a medium mixing bowl.
Whisk lemon juice into the puree until combined.
Slowly drizzle extra virgin olive oil into the mixture, whisking vigorously. Once all of the olive oil has been added, continue whisking for another 30-45 seconds. The vinaigrette should be creamy and bright in flavor, but certainly adjust seasoning according to your preferences.
Serve over sturdy lettuce leaves alongside your favorite salad fixings. This recipe makes just under half a cup of vinaigrette, which is plenty of vinaigrette for a salad serving 4-6. Keep it covered in the fridge for up to one week after preparation.