Salad is my favorite food, I think. I eat salad almost every single day. I even wrote a salad guide on Make and Takes a few years ago. I like to think I'm somewhat of an expert, you see.
Salads are one of the best ways to fit in all your leafy greens, and as I quickly learned when I overcame my salad-phobia, a very delicious way. I tend to like sweet salads with a balance of fruit (dried or fresh), nuts, and sometimes grains (quinoa, buckwheat, etc.) or legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.) I don't put cheese in my salads much anymore--occassionally--so it's important to make sure my salad has enough flavor. I'm talking to you, Iceberg Lettuce with Ranch. (p.s. You're boring.)
A long time ago, I made some soup (the picture is terrible, by the way, Jane's is better) that my friend, Judy, made for a church party. The secret ingredients that made it so delicious? Balsamic vinegar and vanilla. People act kind of nervous when hear that combo. It sounds strange, but it's absolutely the best thing ever. Ever.
So I came up with a vinaigrette that I knew I would like using both balsamic and vanilla. And guess what? It's incredible! I've made it a few times over the past few weeks.
I like this vinaigrette with a really simple salad because it does have tons of flavor on its own.
In the picture, I added chopped toasted hazelnuts, chopped dates, green onions, orach leaves and pea shoot leaves.
I've done just greens. And I've done greens with just nuts. And I've used it with fresh, sliced strawberries and nuts. I imagine some nice salty cheese would be great with it (Pecorino, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Feta, etc.). Add bacon, if you like. A salad with greens, dried cranberries, nuts, and some cheese would really be fantastic. You could also toss in some green or red onions.
Peach Balsamic Vanilla Vinaigrette
1/4 cup really good peach jam (I used homemade, try to find one that's organic and all-sugar)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup flavorless oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
1/4-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
salt and pepper, to taste
Put all the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
Yields 1 cup.
*Strawberry, apricot, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, quince, or other fruits.
*regular balsamic vinegar (use with darker berry jams for a nicer color)
*leave out the vanilla and use a tiny bit of almond extract
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