This dressing has been a staple in our house for almost 10-years now! I first made it because it was a no-calorie dressing; later because it was no-oil. Even later, I read an article by a chef who uses a balsamic reduction as a gastrique (a thick syrupy reduction of mainly vinegar and sugar) because it builds levels of flavors (adding sour and sweet) in any dish. It adds complexity and rounds out flavors. To me that’s a win/win/win. So I add a balsamic-drizzle to almost everything now. Plus it looks nice!
I make a double batch of this: I keep my dressing container in the fridge, and keep a container waiting in the freezer. Obviously I don’t want to run out.
Thanks to Charski who created and shared this recipe a long time ago!
Char’s Balsamic Reduction
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar (I love Costco’s brand)
- 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/3 cup cider or red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried chives
- 1 shallot, minced (optional onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (or roasted, smashed)
- 1 tablespoon sweetener (or more, to taste; or blend in a date or more)
- 1 3-oz. envelope liquid pectin
“Combine vinegars in saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer til it is reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 10 minutes or longer). Add tarragon and chives, shallot and garlic. Simmer 2 more minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool then strain into non-reactive container (I use a plastic salad dressing shaker or a glass canning jar), pressing on the herbs to remove as much of the vinegar as possible; add the sweetener, stirring well. Add liquid pectin. Refrigerate.
NOTES: Trust me when I tell you that you do not want to inhale the fumes from the vinegar when it’s simmering! Wow. It will open your sinuses right up! Have your overhead fan going.
Different brands of balsamic taste quite different. I’ve tried a few now and the one from Costco has a nice, mellow flavor. They’re all tasty though when reduced like this.
Liquid pectin can be found with the canning supplies. My market also has it in the produce section. Originally I made this reduction with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, but tried the pectin when I read somewhere that it would give body to a reduced or 0 fat salad dressing recipe. It does! It causes the dressing to stick to the greens better, and it also increases the volume, at 0 calories.
This stuff is so good that I want to lick the bowl when I’ve eaten the salad! Our favorite is to serve it over a bed of crisp, cold romaine that has been tossed with the balsamic reduction. Then I top it with canned artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, sliced tomatoes, sweet peppers, whatever you like on a salad (beans), and top it off with a few pine nuts. DH mmm’s and ahhh’s til he hits the bottom of the plate!” —Char
A Fruity Vinaigrette (no oil)
KristiW says “This is similar to the storebought Annie’s low fat raspberry (which just costs too much to buy, besides, fresh is better…”)
I took KristiW’s excellent recipe for raspberry vinaigrette here and made some slight changes.
- 4 tsp. stoneground mustard
- 1/4 C. frozen unsweetened raspberries (or you could use fresh figs. Possibilities are endless.)
- 1/4 C. Char’s balsamic reduction dressing (above)
- 3/4 C. water
- 2 dates, pitted (more or less to taste)
I blended this with an immersion blender and it worked great. Keep in the fridge. Great on a confetti salad or slaw.
[Edit on 9/1/10: A friend sent me an article, Pectin: Not Just For Jelly, and I thought this was interesting: “From a culinary standpoint, we like pectin because it creates gels with a smooth, creamy texture and great flavor release. It can be used to create fruit and vegetable terrines, water gels, and low-sugar and low-fat applications. All that and it’s a vegetarian product.”]