Spring has sprung! There is so much spring in the air in Santa Fe and what a welcome change. Buds have dropped on the trees, daffodils have sprouted and there is a renewed spirit in the air. The farmers market is also starting to produce more options and we are grateful.
Last week, I snagged a bag of arugula with one thing on my mind–salad. After a winter with limited access to locally-grown greens, the season’s first sign of arugula is a beautiful sight.
Say Hello to Salad Season
I recently had an arugula salad at a local restaurant (yes, that is you, Pranzo) that completely captivated me. Arugula, roasted beets, walnuts, gorgonzola and a sublime balsamic vinaigrette. This was so divine, I made it the next week for a gathering and everyone was equally smitten.
The combination of flavors–peppery arugula, earthy beets, toasted walnuts and stinky cheese–play so well with the sweetly acidic balsamic vinaigrette. The version I came up with uses 1:1 ratio of extra virgin olive oil to balsamic, but also features Dijon mustard, garlic, dried herbs and a touch of maple syrup. This vinaigrette is so simple yet unmistakably sensational, I encourage you to have a jar in the fridge so you are ready for salad season.
Being prepared means salads can your best friend and a quick and easy dinner is never far away.
Extra virgin olive oil is the base of every vinaigrette. Add shallots and it becomes this. Add champagne vinegar and you can have this vinaigrette. Or if you want a mustardy vinaigrette, there is this recipe. But add balsamic vinegar and balsamic becomes the star of the show. While I like balsamic, I appreciate it more when the vinegar is toned down because it can be very strong and take over everything.
What I like about this recipe is there are other ingredients in the vinaigrette that tone down the balsamic flavor so there is more subtlety to the vinaigrette. This is clearly a balsamic vinaigrette, but it’s not screaming in your face. That means we can add more ingredients to the salad to make it fun and filled with flavors and textures.
Grab a mason jar of sorts and get started making this balsamic vinaigrette. You can use it for salads, grilled or roasted vegetables, a dip for raw vegetables and for sourdough bread. The possibilities are endless.
As we launch into a bright and beautiful new season of change, lighter foods are on the horizon and this balsamic vinaigrette is exactly what you need to cruise into spring and summer.
Most balsamic vinaigrettes I have had are too balsamic-forward for me. This version offers the perfect balance of flavors to make the balsamic more subtle and that's exactly why it's so perfect. Dress your favorite salad with this vinaigrette or drizzle your roasted or grilled vegetables.
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon dried basil or dried thyme or a combo of the two
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
In a lidded jar, place all of the ingredients and screw the lid on tightly.
Shake, shake and shake some more so the vinaigrette emulsifies completely.
Drizzle over salad and enjoy.
Refrigerate any leftover dressing. Before using, allow to come to room temperature and shake, shake, shake some more or stir to combine and repeat.