Everyone knows that there’s something about restaurant salads that are just better. I’m not sure what it is, but no matter how healthy the menu description makes something out to be, the deliciousness of a fancy purchased salad makes me suspicious. Do they butter the lettuce? Inject the tomatoes with sugar? (Well, depending on the place, I really wouldn’t be surprised.)
I think what it really comes down to is the dressing. Oil and vinegar is good but gets boring, and even the bottled stuff just tastes…bottled. Really good restaurant salads usually have fresh, fun-flavored dressings. That, and they tend to use a lot of it.
While at NGI, we had a class on infusions- oils and vinegars infused with spices, herbs or produce. Those red pepper-infused oils and raspberry vinegars you can get at Williams-Sonoma or Dean & Deluca are actually ridiculously easy and cheap to make, and really take homemade salad dressings to the next level. This particular version is my favorite!
Blueberry Infused Vinegar
Yields about 1 cup
- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar and honey to a boil.
- Put the blueberries into a clean, dry glass jar, and pour the vinegar mixture over top of them.
- Seal the jar well and store in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. The longer you allow it to sit, the stronger the berry flavor and color will be.
- Strain the blueberries and mix the vinegar with your oil of choice to create a flavored vinaigrette!
Easiest “recipe” ever, right? You can also substitute just about any vinegar, sweetener or berry- white sugar with white wine vinegar and raspberries; agave with balsamic and orange slices. I usually mix mine with good-quality olive oil, but if you’re really feeling fancy, go with something special like walnut or melted coconut oil. The blueberry-olive oil blend is really good with greens, walnuts, cucumbers and more blueberries…
What’s your favorite salad dressing? Have you ever tried making your own?