If you’re throwing a barbecue, you’ll want to provide a fresh salad or two to counterbalance the effects of all that grilled meat, but don’t just douse that beautiful head of romaine you’ve culled from your garden or the delicate butter lettuce bought this morning at the farmers market with random amounts of olive oil and vinegar.

Keep this recipe, bottles of full-bodied olive oil and mild vinegar (such as red or white wine or Champagne vinegar) and shallots close at hand, then follow these steps to the perfect vinaigrette. (This recipe makes enough to cover a salad for 4-6 people. If you wish to make more, just follow the basic ratio of 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar.)

(1) Prepare a simple vinaigrette that has the right ratio of olive oil to vinegar
(2) Use just enough dressing to barely coat the greens.

INGREDIENTS

full-bodied olive oil
mild vinegar
1 tsp shallots
Salt and Pepper to taste

(1) Place 1 tsp finely chopped shallots and 1 tbsp mild vinegar in an empty salad bowl; stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
(2) Whisk in 3 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may also add a dash of fruit juice if you like your vinaigrette on the sweet side.
(3) Toss lettuce with just enough of the vinaigrette to barely coat the leaves (usually 1-2 tbsp is enough to coat 1 head of lettuce).