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Olivia Wilde's Salad Dressing - How to Make the Vinaigrette From Nora Ephron's Book

You might be wondering why the internet is buzzing about Olivia Wilde’s salad dressing, and that’s fair enough. The short answer is that Wilde, her boyfriend Harry Styles, and her ex-fiance Jason Sudeikis (yes, the same actor who made Ted Lasso’s biscuits famous) are caught in a controversy about some alleged text messages their former nanny leaked to The Daily Mail. One of the texts refers to “a special salad dressing” that Wilde makes, which meant that for 24 to 48 hours, the internet was full of people doing some sleuthing to figure out what kind of incredible vinaigrette could fuel so much drama. Not since the Nicolas Cage favorite pasta shape mystery had so many people become instant food detectives.

A few folks narrowed in on a recipe that Wilde contributed to the Food Network in 2020, which features a very simple red wine vinaigrette. When I saw that dressing—red wine vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and shallot—I knew it looked familiar. It was suspiciously similar to my own back pocket vinaigrette that I learned from Nora Ephron’s novel, Heartburn. So when Wilde put a photo of the page in Heartburn that describes the dressing recipe up on her Instagram Stories, I felt wildly vindicated.

What’s so special about the Nora Ephron vinaigrette? The full recipe is this: “Mix 2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard with 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar. Then, whisking constantly with a fork, slowly add 6 tablespoons olive oil until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy.”

That’s it. It’s nothing fancy but it is incredibly reliably good on all kinds of salads, and it’s so simple that you can easily memorize it. You can add in things if you’d like—chopped shallot, herbs—but you don’t have to. It stands up all by itself, and can even be used as a drizzle over roast chicken or steak if you need one. It’s a classic for a reason. When I was dating in my 20s, if I liked someone, it was one of my go to dressings to make for a date meal. The ingredients are so bare bones that almost everyone—even the whirling dervish bachelors of my youth—had the ingredients, and you’d be surprised how impressed my dates were by the simple ask of whipping up a salad dressing from scratch without consulting a cookbook.

Nor is that Ephron’s only excellent recipe from Heartburn. The book has so many good tidbits woven throughout that it has become a staple for a generation of food writers–many of whom have written about Ephron for Food52. It’s a world worth digging into, if you’re so inclined. And even if you’re not, it’s worth giving that famous salad dressing a try.

What’s your go-to salad dressing? Let us know in the comments!
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