Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine using any of the following options:

  • Super simple (for small quantities):  put all ingredients in a mug, and agitate in a circular motion with a fork.
  • Still pretty simple: put all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (like a canning jar), tighten the lid, and shake like the dickens–fun job for kiddos.
  • Simple:  put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously.
  • Not-so-simple, but still fun (good for larger quantities):  Pull out your food processor or (the Diva’s favorite) Magic Bullet, add solid ingredients first (like garlic or ginger) and pulse until everything is minced.  Then all other non-oil ingredients (vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, etc), and then, while the processor is still on, add the oil slowly.  Voila.  You’ll have a tasty and emulsified dressing.

If you’re making a big batch, leftovers can be kept in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Homemade Dressing: How?

So you’re convinced that making your own homemade dressing is at least worth a shot. Here’s the how-to that will help you to take this theory and put it into practice. Where to start? Unless you’re already well-acquainted with different oils and vinegars, it is helpful to start with a recipe.  Check out our Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette and the Domestic Diva’s Buttermilk Basil Dressing, and then check out the considerations for combining below.

5 Basic Elements of salad dressing for Everyday Chef.

  1. Oil:  Use a good quality olive oil or neutral-tasting alternative like canola, grapeseed or safflower. Combined with a bit of sesame oil or nut oil, you’ve got an dressing you won’t find in the store.  How much oil do you need? Traditionally, the oil to acid ratio is 3 to 1, but I prefer an equal 1 to 1 mix.
  2. Acid: The go-to vinegars are balsamic, red wine and rice vinegar. Want a change of pace? Try champagne or sherry vinegar.  You can also substitute some or all of the vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. A splash of lime juice goes well with citrus-based salads.
  3. Sweet: To take the edge off the acid, add a touch of sweetness. Ordinary white sugar will do, but you’ll add more flavour with honey, maple syrup, apple juice, or even jam.
  4. Salt: A generous pinch or two is usually enough.  If you’re desired dressing is Asian-inspired, opt for Tamari (a slightly more refined soy sauce) instead of salt.  The Domestic Diva recommends kosher salt and sea salt.
  5. Aromatics: Minced fresh herbs, shallots, citrus rind, black pepper and/or garlic aren’t mandatory but add flavor. Common salad herbs include basil, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, mint, parsley and dill. Mix and match as you please.

How to combine it all?

You have several great options for combining your dressing accommodates any kitchen set-up or budget.  The following list details options from simple to complex:

  • Super simple (for small quantities):  put all ingredients in a mug, and agitate in a circular motion with a fork.
  • Still pretty simple: put all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (like a canning jar), tighten the lid, and shake like the dickens–fun job for kiddos.
  • Simple:  put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously.
  • Not-so-simple, but still fun (good for larger quantities):  Pull out your food processor or (the Diva’s favorite) Magic Bullet, add solid ingredients first (like garlic or ginger) and pulse until everything is minced.  Then all other non-oil ingredients (vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, etc), and then, while the processor is still on, add the oil slowly.  Voila.  You’ll have a tasty and emulsified dressing.

If you’re making a big batch, leftovers can be kept in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:

  • One bunch garlic scapes (approximately 10), chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or almonds (can be toasted if desired)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation: Put the scapes, cheese, nuts, and olive oil in a food processor or blender (can be done with a mortar and pestle as well–just more elbow grease required) and whir until ingredients are evenly blended.  More olive oil can be added to thin if it is too thick for your taste.  Add salt to taste and whir again briefly.

Use pesto immediately as a sauce for warm pasta, or to spread on fresh bread or veggies.  Pesto is easy to freeze in plastic bags or containers.  Otherwise, store in the fridge for a couple of days with a bit of plastic over the surface to prevent oxidizing.

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