Have you ever heard of white balsamic vinegar? I hadn’t until a friend gave me some as a present a few years ago. Being unfamiliar with this, I experimented with the vinegar and made one of the best salads I had ever eaten. It was so delicious that I named it “Out-of-This-World Salad,” made of chicory (an unusual leafy green similar to romaine), Comice pears, kiwi fruit, blueberries, walnuts, a sprinkling of blue cheese, white balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. That’s all. Simple!
I have an “un-recipe” for it, which means that you use the ingredients I suggest and make it according to your own tastes. Think flex salad. You can make this salad to accompany a main meal or beef it up a bit to make it a meal itself. You may not think of a salad as a wintertime dinner entrée, but it is surprisingly refreshing. This salad takes just a few minutes to assemble so it’s good for those nights when you don’t want to stand in front of the stove. The main ingredients are salad greens, fruit, olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. The secret here to extraordinary deliciousness is to pair the white balsamic vinegar with some fruit. The tart and tangy flavor of the vinegar mixes with the sweetness of the fruit and it becomes a third thing all its own and it’s, well, out of this world.
My favorite combinations are: baby greens or butter lettuce, oranges, radishes and a small amount of minced red onion. Or butter lettuce, pears, blue cheese. Romaine with kiwi and blueberries. The dressing is always one part white balsamic vinegar to three parts extra virgin olive oil. I tend to use one tablespoon vinegar to three tablespoons oil. Add in a few nuts and/or seeds and you’ll have a salad substantial enough to make the salad into a light meal. I use chopped pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts. A few tablespoons of hemp seeds add a delightful texture and some protein too (13 grams per ¼ cup). Those are my favorite combinations; use your imagination to discover your own.
If you’d like a roasted vegetable to go from ordinary to extraordinary without having to expend much effort, melt some butter and add some white balsamic vinegar using the three to one ratio. Using a pastry brush, spread an even coat on the vegetables a few minutes before the vegetables are finished cooking and then sprinkle them with coarse sea salt.
Next time you need a present for that cook who seems to have everything, consider white balsamic vinegar. You can buy it from $5.99 to $30.