Salads in the summer feel so right. When it’s too hot to cook, and the berries are plentiful, nothing sounds better to me than a handful of greens and a bunch of ripe berries. And the best way to tie it all together? A delicious dressing (or two!).
Now, these may sound scary. Balsamic reduction?! Raspberry dressing?! Fear not. These are wonderful, and work best as a team. I promise, even my Dad liked them. As you are finding out, he is the family member I most often ask for opinions on my cooking.
First up, the reduction.
1 cup balsamic vinegar (nothing too special or expensive, the cheap stuff will do).
optional: sugar/honey to sweeten (although it will sweeten during the cooking process)
Put 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer until it thickens to desired consistency, whisking consistently. Easy easy.
So what is going on here? A reduction is just like what it sounds. It’s chemistry. When you bring your balsamic vinegar to a boil you are actually boiling off the water that is naturally found in the (cheap) balsamic vinegar. Water has a lower boiling point that balsamic vinegar (acetic acid), 212* F compared to 244*F. So when you boil the vinegar most of the water is evaporated, leaving behind the acetic acid and resulting in a thicker sauce. Although, the difference in the boiling points of water and acetic acid is not terribly large so you will lose some acetic acid in this process as well. Which is not all bad, as less acid means a slightly sweeter product.
For more food science fun, read this. I’m totally obsessed with this book.
Next, the raspberry dressing. Inspired by the grossly inferior store bought raspberry dressing sitting in our fridge, this dressing combines the creaminess of yogurt, with the sweetness of raspberries, and tang of vinegar. Consequently, it worked dreamily with the slightly sweet and acidic balsamic reduction.
Raspberry Yogurt Dressing:
1 handful fresh raspberries
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2-3 T olive oil
1-2 T apple cider vinegar
1 t honey
salt + pepper to taste
optional: add a spice or herb of your choice (I threw in a dash of cardamon).
Method: combine everything in a blender/magic bullet/food processor and mix until smooth. Taste test and add more or less of any ingredient until desired taste is achieved.
All drizzled over a bowl of sweet peaches and raspberries, cucumbers, green onions, and sharp arugula. Heaven.