08 April 2013

Eats: spinach salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, lately I’ve been craving healthy, simple foods. Healthy because I’m DONE with wintry comfort food. Just done. DONE DONE DONE. And simple because... I am honestly not super interested in cooking these days. Yup. I said it. At least I’m not a real food blogger whose livelihood depends on spending time in the kitchen to deliver awesome recipes to you. But nonetheless, that’s some real-talk for you from someone who at least writes a weekly recipe post, eh?

So... salads. Lately I’ve been all about salads, because they’re fast and relatively healthy (in that I don’t include a stick of butter, like some of my other recipes). And unlike my “pile avocado and boiled egg on ciabatta bread” meals I’ve been having lately, some salads actually count as recipes I can share with you! Particularly if I make my own pomegranate vinaigrette dressing, right? That would be kind of fancy? Sure!

But that is not why I bought this vinegar.

Here’s another confession for you: that was a total accident-purchase. I meant to buy basic red wine vinegar. You know, the sort of stuff you can put in Asian dishes with soy sauce, the sort of thing that perks up an overseasoned tomato sauce to get a bit of acidity back in it. That stuff. I got home and saw this bottle with “POMEGRANATE!!!!” emblazoned across the front and wondered how on earth I could have made such a mistake.

(I know how I could have made such a mistake. It was on sale. The regular red wine vinegar was not. Ahem.)

Anyway, when life hands you lemons you make lemonade, when life hands you a mistakenly purchased bottle of pomegranate-infused vinegar, you make vinaigrette. On a lovely, whole-foodsy salad.

Let’s do this thing. Like every standard vinaigrette, you need both vinegar and oil. I wasn’t sure whether to use olive or vegetable for this concoction, so I used both.

(Please note that I was making this dinner in daylight. Hallelujah!)

Now. A fair amount of googling suggested that I should use two parts oil to one part vinegar. So, I started with a quarter-cup of oil – half olive, half vegetable – and a tablespoon and a half of vinegar. Seemed legit.

I also added salt, pepper, a pinch of basil, and a weensier pinch of sugar. Then shake shake shake!

I guess an immersion blender would work well, but getting an arm workout with this plastic screw-top Ball jar was good enough for me.

Here it was combined – okay, mostly. You can see a few little drops around the edges, but I shook them out!

I gave it a taste and... too oily. I added another tablespoon or so of vinegar. Still oily. I gave a few more shakes that would probably round it out to nearly one part vinegar to one part oil. And it still seemed oily to me, but at that point I was ready to get this show on the road.

Here’s the rest of the ingredients. As this was a side salad this particular evening, I kept it super simple with spinach (pre-washed, no less), goat cheese, and slivered almonds:

But this could easily transform into a main dish salad! I think it would be super delicious with some avocado (of course) and sliced chicken. Bonus if the chicken is marinated in the dressing!

Combine it all together with the dressing (after a few more shake shake shakes) and boom, salad:

I think this was a tasty way to start using up this vinegar, but I unfortunately used a bit too much dressing on my salad. So, the whole shebang came out a little too oily. When I make this again – which, of course I will, how else am I going to use up that whole dang bottle of vinegar – I’ll use just olive oil because I prefer the taste, and I’ll start at a 1:1 ratio of oil to vinegar.

Behold, crunchy green dinner. Simple crunchy green dinner.

Anyone else in a crunchy vegetable craze as this weather warms up? How about simplifying dinners to have more free time in the extra daylight? And most importantly: anyone know how to use pomegranate vinegar for things that aren’t dressings?


Rachel C said...

My mom makes tomato, onion and cucumber salad with a simple oil and red wine vinaigrette that is the perfect little summer side dish. I'm sure it would be amazing with the pomegranate vinegar.

Janice said...

Here's what I found to do with the pomegranate vinaigrette on a forum style page. Hope it sparks some ideas for you....

Put a cup of it in a blender with a teaspoon of Dijon. Crank it up to high and slowly pour in canola oil. I prefer Canola for this because of it's lack of flavor, you want the vinegar to stand out a bit more with something like that. If all goes well you will have a nice emulsified salad dressing, also quite good on many other things. I am thinking a drop on a fresh oyster. If you don't like the acidity, add sugar or your chosen sweetener to mellow it out. Honey would be beautiful with this, possibly with a bit of lavender.
Make a butter sauce for fish. I am thinking, your vinegar, Ginger, Peppercorns, honey and OJ. Reduce till almost dry and start whisking in very cold butter. Use honey at the very end to adjust flavor and strain the ginger and peppercorns out of the mixture.
This is going to sound weird, but it is REALLY good, and really simple...mix about a tablespoon with some plain or vanilla yogurt! I have also tried this with blueberry, passionfruit, and balsamic vinegar-all are very tasty! Just don't go overboard, it the vinegar is powerful!
right. use on sammies, mix it with cream cheese for a tasty veggie dip, have a splash on fresh-cooked and buttered pasta, try tiny hits on unflavored doritos or pringles

Aside from that recipe, another good thing to do with vinegar is deglazing a pan after pan-frying meat to make a sauce. E.g. fry up some pork chops (because pork tends to go well with sweet sauces), when that's done, poor some of the vinegar in the pan and stir to dissolve the caramelized brown bits left in the pan from the meat. Add some red wine to the mixture and let it simmer until it thickens a bit and season to taste. Then you have a sauce for your meat.
Here's the last one I found....
Is it like a thick, syrupy caramelised vinegar? I have a caramelised pomegranate balsamic vinegar in the fridge. I use it for everything:

salad dressings
marinades (it's brilliant on lamb, with salt, rosemary, mustard and chilli flakes)
straight in the centre of an avocado half
poured onto root vegetables and onion, then baked

I bought it from a food fair. The guy who sold it to me recommended using it to make roast potatoes, though I haven't tried that yet.

You could probably also make an amazing ice-cream sauce from it. It might need to be thickened up/caramelised further with some more sugar, but it would be a great, sharp syrup on creamy vanilla.