Summer Vinaigrette
Summer Vinaigrette

Summer Vinaigrette: A Big Help for the Dog Days of Summer

Every summer has its dog days -- those stifling hot days when there's no breeze anywhere and the only hope of comfort is to sit absolutely still. If you have company coming, the very thought of cooking is unbearable.

I always keep a container of summer vinaigrette in the refrigerator to have on hand for making many no-cook dishes. This vinaigrette is chock-full of fresh herbs that will liven up any variety of salad greens, fresh vegetables, cold seafood, chicken or pasta salads. It's amazing just how versatile this sauce can be, particularly when you want to showcase raw vegetables or cooked and chilled fish, poultry or meat.

One of my favorite dishes to serve when it is just too hot to cook is a platter of raw vegetables drizzled with Summer Vinaigrette along with cold antipasti meats and assorted cheeses. I also love to throw together a quick salad of chopped heirloom tomatoes, fresh baby mozzarella balls, torn basil and some summer vinaigrette. If I have some cooked green beans, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower available, I will add that to the salad. So get creative with your cheeses and vegetables, and don't forget the vinaigrette.

Here's a recipe for my award-winning vinaigrette sauce and dressing, along with some helpful tips on serving tasty dishes when the dog days are upon you. Happy eating!

Summer Vinaigrette Recipe

Makes 1 cup.

I medium shallot, finely chopped

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 teaspoon finely chopped basil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the shallots, garlic, parsley, chives, basil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and red wine vinegar in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. (Or place in a food processor and process until well blended.)

2. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking continuously (or processing) until blended. Add the salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.

Advance Preparation: This may be prepared and kept up to one week in the refrigerator. Whisk before using.

Here are some suggestions for serving cool, delicious food with an absolute minimum of effort:


-- Go light on alcoholic drinks -- it's easy to drink too fast.

-- Serve big bottles of icy cold sparkling mineral water with lime wedges.

-- Serve fruit nectar and sparkling water combinations.

First Courses

-- Deviled eggs

-- Crudites with guacamole, Summer Vinaigrette or store-bought dips

-- Cold no-cook soups like cucumber soup

-- Chilled cracked crab with Lemon-Chive Mayonnaise

-- Chilled jumbo shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce

Light and Easy Main Courses

-- A platter of sardines, sliced tomatoes, hard-cooked eggs and olives

-- A variety of sliced melons and Black Forest or Parma ham

-- Halved hard-cooked eggs with Summer Vinaigrette, roasted peppers with balsamic vinegar, Nicoise olives and really crusty French bread

-- Sliced avocado, shrimp and tomato salad with Summer Vinaigrette


-- Your favorite ice cream, a bowl of fresh berries with mint leaves

-- A cheese and fruit platter with assorted tea breads or cookies.


Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks (click here), including "Seriously Simple Holidays: Recipes and Ideas to Celebrate the Season," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host.


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