Make Ahead

April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing

April  6, 2012
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Makes about 1 cup
Author Notes

At first glance, this is a shockingly brash dressing. April Bloomfield uses not just lemon juice, but whole lemon segments, and more mustard than could possibly seem like a good idea. But she also knows about restraint, and adds just enough addictive nips of caper and shallot to keep you going, and gentler undercurrents of lemon juice, salt, and sugar. At The Spotted Pig, she serves it with a fried pig's ear salad, but salads with other fatty meats, cheeses or avocado work too. Bloomfield says finely chopped parsley is a nice addition. Adapted very slightly from A Girl and Her Pig (Ecco, 2012) —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (choose one whose flavor you like on its own -- we used Maille)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon or another flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Segment the lemons over a bowl to catch the juices (see note below). Set aside.
  2. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a separate bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir well.
  3. Add the lemon segments and toss gently to coat them without breaking them up. Use straightaway or chill in the fridge, covered, for up to an hour.
  4. Note: To segment the lemons: Use a sharp knife to cut off just enough of the fruit's top and bottom to expose a full circle of the flesh on either end. Stand the lemon on one of its ends, place your knife point at the seam where the fruit meets the pith, and use a gentle sawing motion to cut away a wide strip of pith and skin, following the curve of the fruit from top to bottom. Repeat the process until all you have left is a nice, round, naked fruit. If you've missed any white pith, trim it off. Make a cut down either side of each segment, right against the membrane, and gently pry out each segment, one at a time (see slideshow). Flick out any seeds, and set the segments aside in a bowl, reserving the juicy membranes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marissa Seto
    Marissa Seto
  • Sally
  • Elizabeth Detrich
    Elizabeth Detrich
  • KatieBrooks
  • Therese
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

87 Reviews

jcasare August 18, 2019
This is fantastic! A go to for a crowd pleaser.
Marissa S. January 20, 2019
This dressing is awesome and will be my new go to for dinner parties! Its salt and tang that pair extremely well with fatty toppings on a salad. I tossed this dressing into hand-teared little gems and butter lettuce leaves and topped the salad off with crispy prosciutto chips, halved medium/soft boiled eggs (a pinch of maldon on the yolks), toasted chopped almonds, and avocado chunks. It was PERFECT. I also decided to cut the lemon segments into tiny pieces since biting into huge segments was a little too much punch for my taste.
Kiki K. November 24, 2018
I apologize in advance for the silly question—but is the dressing served with whole slices of lemon or are you supposed to put this in the food processor?
Gal November 24, 2018
Yes, the dressing is served with whole slices of lemon. No food processor.
Sally June 23, 2018
I used a cognac mustard which was so good. Have used this dressing on multiple dishes...beets, salmon , sautéed greens...etc. this is a staple in my refrigerator.
Nancy H. December 13, 2017
After the revelations of work conditions at The Spotted Pig, we all need to consider whether we can't find a way to raise Chef Bloomfield's consciousness. There are many recipes in the world, I'll manage without hers for now.
Gal December 13, 2017
That's absolutely OK if you chose not to make this one (Or any of Chef Bloomfield's recipes), but that doesn't take from the fact that it's
a great recipe that makes a phenomenal dressing.
Nancy H. December 14, 2017
Actually I think Bloomfield's failure to protect her workers is a grave failure that should be treated with all the seriousness it deserves. Her recipes are not exculpatory nor do they transcend her failures.
Gal December 14, 2017
While of course you're entitled to your own opinion, I don't think
this is the place/site for such view or judgement about this chef or another.
Let's keep it about food?
Nancy H. December 14, 2017
Nope, we all care about the origins of our food, well, that includes recipes. If we can be concerned about GMO or not then we can be concerned about the character of those we support.
lizaH December 14, 2017
Don't make it, Nancy, if that's how you feel. It's a recipe, not a book or some other object that you're buying. Quit bullying her.
Nancy H. December 14, 2017
I'll stop commenting, freely expressing one's opinion is not bullying at least among grown ups, when Ms. Bloomfield stops enabling sexual harassment. I really don't understand why all women wouldn't.
Jesse February 14, 2018
GMOs aren't bad, recipes aren't evil, dumb comment... That's bullying
Kristin K. June 13, 2018
Why not? This is the perfect place to comment on all that they neglected to do!
Elizabeth D. October 15, 2017
Fantastic dressing! I use this on mixed greens, butter lettuce or arugula greens with either salmon or tuna on top.
For a twist, I omitted the salt, added one clove of garlic and four anchovy fillets - gave it a whirl in the food processor and bam! This is by far the most requested dressing I make for family get-togethers.
KatieBrooks May 26, 2017
I made this dressing at the beginning of the week and have woken up a few mornings thinking about it. my husband, who likes neither lemons nor capers(and I STILL love him) thinks its great. I'm making it again tonight. sorry, nothing helpful in this comment, just love and celebration.
Therese December 18, 2016
I had cut my finger earlier and didn't want to squeeze lemons so I used bottled lemon juice - I know, shocking. Even with the inferior lemon juice, this dressing was phenomenal. I've been thinking of it ever since I made it a few weeks ago and will be making a big batch for all of my holiday dinners. I'l probably reduce the mustard by half as the mustard flavor did overpower, but that may be because of my 2nd rate lemon juice.
Susanna July 18, 2016
Finally made this yesterday, but it was just too much mustard for me. I found that the mustard flavor overwhelmed everything else. Will make again, halve the mustard and compensate with extra acid.
Gal July 18, 2016
Now that's what a a real chef is all about! This is a fabulous dressing!! I used
it on an iceberg lettuce salad. The lemon segments are essential here and the
capers add a necessary kick. Everything works so well together.
Susanna July 10, 2016
Wonder how this would do on a potato salad? I dislike traditional mayonnaise-y potato salad but this could make me rethink my attitude toward potato salad in general.
Winifred R. June 19, 2017
So did you try it? I did a similar dressing but not quite as punchy and short of capers with a potato salad of young new potatoes, herbs (basil, chives, mint), some cucumber, and wax beans. I found it lovely.
claireinaustin December 2, 2017
I am way late to these comments so you may not see this, but I have put this dressing on baked potatoes with chunks of avocado and it is fabulous. So potato salad might be an extra delicious match too, especially if you throw some bacon in there. It's also wonderful spooned over chicken or fish.
Sara P. June 27, 2016
I used this dressing the other night to dress a slaw I made with shaved fennel, radishes, green onions, julienned carrots,fresh dill and black ground pepper. It was amazing. The flavors of complimented the strong flavors in the slaw. I will be keeping the ingredients for this on hand so I can use it to enhance other recipes.
bas26 June 25, 2016
This dressing is so versatile. I panfried 2 soft shelled crabs dredged in flour and a little salt. After removing them from the pan, I deglazed with a little white wine then added 2 tbsp. of this dressing, cooking it just to warm it up. Fantastic! I also baked a piece of salmon in the oven then topped it with this dressing. Another wow. I'm now on my 2nd batch and can't get enough of it. My lemon had a lot of seeds so the segments disintegrated by the time I removed them but it tasted great just the same. I think I'll try it on pasta next.
mel June 18, 2016
Any suggestions on an alternative for capers - we are vegetarians. Thank you
Caroline C. June 19, 2016
Capers are berries! So they are plant based and therefore vegetarian. So enjoy. Here is a link from the Splendid Table describing the caper:
Jessica F. June 11, 2016 I was confused about how to segment a lemon. Once I saw this video everything made sense.
Barb June 10, 2016
I used this on both poached salmon and the pea pod stir-fry I made to go with it. This might be something I keep in the fridge all the time, it's amazing! I was going to try the leftovers in a chopped salad, but it was all gone by the time dinner was finished. The little membrane-less segments were barely noticeable.
Ceege June 5, 2016
I am having 6 women in two weeks for a "Ladies" spring luncheon. I am planning on a wonderful quiche recipe and think this salad may be what I am looking for to compliment the egg dish. My only concern is the lemon pieces. It seems that it would be really sour when biting into a whole piece of lemon. Has anyone had this problem or any complaints from your guests. I appreciate any input from anyone that has already tried this salad and dressing.
Kit C. August 1, 2018
I have the same question. A lemon segment can be pretty large in a mouthful!
Megan October 6, 2015
Finally made this and it was great. I used it on a kale salad w/ parmesan, avocado, and chicken. So delicious! I especially liked the lemon segments and would not omit those!
robin L. August 1, 2015
I think 'fatty' cheeses are recommended in the notes to this recipe, but I don't see any ideas anywhere in any comments...what kind do you think would work? (Feta goes nicely with lemon, but it's not really a 'fatty'cheese, and I'm not picturing any other kind off the top of my head...)
SMSF June 1, 2016
I'm pretty sure that "fatty" refers only to "meats" in that sentence.
robin L. June 1, 2016
Ah! Thanks! 8^)
Katie H. July 26, 2015
Has anyone made this a day ahead? How did the favors hold up?
zoemetro U. May 30, 2016
Hi Katie, I make it and use it for 3-4 days. It is so delicious it does not last very long. The olive oil will solidify in the fridge so just put a tablespoon or two in the bottom of the salad bowl 15-20 minutes before serving--and voila--it returns to its flowing yumminess again. I also love adding preserved lemons.
Barb June 5, 2016
I arrived here following an email that said you should make lots and use it for the rest of the week, as salad dressing, topping for chicken and fish, in a grain salad, etc. I don't know why the recipe would imply it only lasts a brief period of time.