Monday, October 25, 2010

Cranberry Vinaigrette

Around here there is a resurgence of local greens for salad after the hot growing season is over. The lettuces and such that were spring greens months ago get replanted and show up in our CSA box as fall greens. While I still love a nice salad with tomatoes and peppers and red wine vinaigrette or ranch dressing, for a seasonal spin, I like to put some fall ingredients in my side salad, such as apples, dried fruits and nuts.

To go with these fall salads, I recently tried a recipe for cranberry vinaigrette. The ingredients are simply whirled together in a blender until they make a pretty pink emulsion that, because of its resemblance to a lovely, fruity drink, was quickly christened “smoothie dressing” at a dinner I had recently with fun relatives. The vinaigrette is well-sweetened (I used maple syrup and turbinado sugar) and fruity, but has plenty of tart and savory notes from the sour end of the cranberries, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard. It is thick and sticks well to just about any salad ingredient, and, while I made my batch several days ago, I have yet to see it begin to separate out of its well-emulsified state as dressings without stabilizers often can.

I really like this dressing with tender fall greens, apples, dried cranberries, nuts and milky ricotta salata cheese. Its sweetened cranberry nature compliments these flavors and textures well. I also think it would be a successful contrast for more robust flavors like bitter arugula, oranges, and pecorino or blue cheese. This recipe makes a lot of vinaigrette, so it looks like I’ll be able to try it in various combinations as long as the late-season greens keep coming. (We’re expecting some greenhouse offerings in our upcoming winter CSA share!)

Fresh cranberries are in the stores now, but you can make this with frozen cranberries as well. Frozen cranberries will be available for a long time, or I highly recommend buying double when you shop for fresh and freezing some yourself. (I think this vinaigrette would be especially attractive on the Christmas dinner table.) Because of their unusually high acid content, cranberries can last even a year or so if well-wrapped and frozen.

The greens will eventually run out, however, especially when the temperature plummets and the snows come, but that’s okay. I’ve got ideas for other uses of Cranberry Vinaigrette, such as dressing a grain salad, stirring it into roasted vegetables, marinating warm spaghetti squash….Hmmm, I think I’ll need to make another batch after all.

Cranberry Vinaigrette
Adapted with alterations from Midwest Living magazine

You can use regular fine sugar for the coarse sugar, but use a little less.

½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries (thaw if frozen)
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons coarse sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch black pepper

1. In the jar of a blender or food processor, combine the cranberries, vinegar and garlic. Blend until no longer chunky.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for at least a week (maybe longer.)

Makes about 1 ¾ cups.

Other recipes like this one: Maple Walnut Vinaigrette, Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette

One year ago: Pizza

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