Méranie's Martinique Vinaigrette


Travel always inspires my cooking. Inevitably, all vacations come to an end, which is always bittersweet for me. I feel sad that it's over but excited to cook again in my own kitchen and inspired to create dishes like the ones I loved while I was there. My recent travels to visit my husband's family in Martinique were no different.

The cuisine in Martinique is just like the island itself: Caribbean and French at the same time. Whenever we go, I'm always struck by how delicious my mother-in-law Méranie's basic French-style vinaigrette is. Her stewed octopus, pork ragu, and tarte aux oursins (sea urchin pie) are all undeniably delicious, but I look forward to the salad course just as much. Savory yet bright, it's always a perfect palate cleanser for the cheese plate that's sure to follow.

This time, I paid closer attention in the kitchen. She doesn't have an exact recipe, but using the same techniques I was able to make a vinaigrette that I'm finally happy with. (In fact, I'm thrilled with it.) The secret is to be generous with fresh garlic and sea salt and use two kinds of acid, both vinegar and lime juice. Like most other things on her table, it's French and Caribbean at the same time.

While Méranie just stirs everything together and leaves it as a broken sauce to be spooned over salads, I use a hand blender to achieve a smooth, creamy, homogenous consistency. Either way it's delicious. Toss this vinaigrette with salads, use it as a dipping sauce, or slather it over grilled meats and vegetables.

1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

  1. Combine the lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic and sea salt. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the pepper, mustard, and 1/2 cup of oil. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste for seasoning and add more oil to taste, depending on how acidic you like your vinaigrette. I add about 3 more tablespoons. If the dressing is too thick, add a splash of water.
  4. Serve it immediately or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for future use.