Here's what happened when I made Olivia Wilde's mysterious "special salad dressing."

Here’s what happened when I made Olivia Wilde’s mysterious “special salad dressing.”

JJust when you thought the Olivia Wilde-Harry Styles-Jason Sudeikis drama couldn’t get a juicer, we learn that a simple vinaigrette is at the root of it all. OK, so that’s, um, spice it up a bit. In case you missed the latest gossip, earlier this week the Daily Mail published an article in which the former nanny of Wilde and Sudeikis made various claims about the couple’s marriage and subsequent divorce. Most intriguing, however, was the repeated reference to a mysterious “special salad dressing” that Wilde likes to make and which the nanny claimed was a major source of conflict.

This article has now been removed from the E-mail‘s website and Wilde and Sudeikis have released a joint statement denying the “false and bizarre allegations” and telling you everything you need to know about the validity of this story. But still I have questions…

First of all, what is this “special salad dressing”? What’s so secret about that? (Spoilers: not much.) Is it the key to uncovering this celebrity scandal we’ve all been so excited about? Will I, too, become irresistible to an incredibly rich and famous suitor if I bring it home and drizzle it over some arugula and parmesan shavings? Whatever your intentions, Wilde finally put us out of our misery, spilling her secret sauce in an Instagram story on Tuesday (October 18).

Dun dun dun… it’s a dressing. Yes, a three-ingredient red wine vinaigrette is apparently all it takes, folks. Not just any dressing, mind you. Mouth pressed very tightly to her cheek, Wilde parted a side of Nora Ephron’s heartburn, a semi-autobiographical story about a cookbook author who turns to food for comfort after her husband’s infidelity. His recipes have garnered a near-cult following among food writers, and the aforementioned vinaigrette is a recurring theme in their endless marital struggles. At first she keeps it a secret because she fears that he will steal the recipe, leaving her and rushing to his beloved’s house, where they will find themselves in a strange, erotic courtship ritual and live happily ever after. “I seem to attach too much importance to my vinaigrette, but war is war,” she writes. In the end, the protagonist teaches her cheating husband how to make the dressing and then leaves him forever. Some would say with a wink, others maybe on the nose.

I wanted to find out how special this salad dressing is, so I gave it a try. Well, Ephron definitely deserves praise for her romantic comedies, biting wit, and strong female leads…but maybe not her clothes. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, something completely new is emulsified from one part red wine vinegar plus two to three parts oil. It’s a classic. It’s also kind of boring. And while most recipes call for no more than a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard, Ephron throws in a whopping two tablespoons. The result is an incredibly tangy, hot and spicy vinaigrette—which is already pretty tangy and hot. And if we’re being pedantic about what we are, it really should be called high-quality extra virgin olive oil. There’s just nothing else.

The key to any vinaigrette is to add the oil slowly and whisk to thicken and creamy. You can also shake it in a glass. Serve immediately or refrigerate for a week – just allow to come to room temperature and reuse with a whisk. The entire process takes no more than a minute and is definitely a recipe everyone should know. I’m all for less is more, but I can’t help but be a little disappointed that this is, as she herself admits, Wilde’s “special salad dressing.” There’s just so much more you could do with it. Add some garlic, for example, although you probably don’t want garlic-y breath on this occasion. Adding honey or using balsamic vinegar is a great way to moderate the acidity. And it all depends on what you wear. Traditionally it would be good quality arugula and parmesan shavings, perhaps a squeeze of lemon. In this case, I would stick with the brand and go with kale and avocado.

Maybe it’s all just a metaphor. Maybe Ephron taught her cheating husband an extra spicy vinaigrette on purpose, and maybe there’s some Wilde reason for us to believe that she special recipe. Of course, we should take all this with a pinch of salt… and then put that salt in the dressing room because it’s in dire need of some spice.

Olivia Wilde’s “Special” Salad Dressing (aka Red Wine Vinaigrette)


2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons olive oil


Mix the mustard and red wine vinegar, then slowly add the olive oil, stirring constantly with a fork, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy. Serve with leafy salads such as rocket, watercress or endive.

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