Friday, October 10, 2008

MoFo 10: Reductions III

We're nearly done talking about reductions but before I wrap things up I want to share one of my favorite tips for using fruit juice reductions in place of fat in salad dressings.  It's not "putting food by," but I can't pass up the opportunity to share this fantastic technique.

As we all know, dressings add a lot of fat to salads and often times, the low-fat or nonfat alternatives taste like ass.  They have little flavor and slip off the salad to the bottom of the bowl.  Along with adding flavor, one of the functions of fat, or oil, in salad dressing is the way it gets the dressing to cling to the salad itself, thereby enhancing every bite with yummy goodness.  Unfortunately, oil is fattening and while a lot of vegans don't need to worry about healthy fats, some of us larger vegans do.

I learned this trick a few years ago and I absolutely love it!  Turns out fruit juice reductions are a great replacement for much of the oil in salad dressings.  They provide intense flavor and zero fat allowing the oil to be dramatically cut.  Also, because they have been reduced to syrups, their viscosity allows them to cling to lettuce and other salad elements.  Here is a base recipe along with a couple variations, all of which have been adapted from The Best Light Recipe Book published by the editors of Cook's Illustrated.  

Each of these recipes makes about 1 cup and once made, can be stored in the fridge for up to 7 days.  When you're ready to have a salad, allow the dressing to come to room temperature, shake it up, and enjoy!

Orange-Lime Vinaigrette
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring the orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer briskly until the juice is thick, syrupy, and measures 2/3 cup, 25-35 minutes.  Transfer the orange syrup to a small bowl and refrigerate 'til cool, about 15 minutes.  (The syrup can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 days.)
  2. Transfer the cooled orange syrup to a jar and add the lime juice, oil, agave nectar or maple syrup, shallot, salt, and pepper.  Seal the lid and shake the mixture vigorously 'til emulsified, about 20 seconds.
  • Apple Cider-Sage Vinaigrette:  Follow the original recipe substituting the orange juice with apple cider (or apple juice).  Also, substitute the lime juice with apple cider vinegar and add 1/2 teaspoon of minced fresh sage leaves to the remaining ingredients.
  • Pear-Rosemary Vinaigrette:  Follow the original recipe substituting the orange juice with with pear juice.  Also, substitute the lime juice with lemon juice and add 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary to the remaining ingredients.
Once you learn this technique, you can experiment with various salad dressings, swapping out juice reductions for a major part of the oil.  If you're brave, forgo the oil altogether!


Jeni Treehugger said...

Mmmmm...I LOVE this blog. This sounds sooo good what a FAB idea. And I LOVE the fact you used the word viscosity!!

jessy said...

oh yay! we're going to have to try the pear-rosemary vinaigrette, Marni! they all sound so awesome! we enjoy lighter dressings, too - but you're right - they don't really hold to all of your greens or your veggies and it just kinda leaves the salad kinda tasting "meh" sometimes, leaving me wanting more - ya know?! using reductions in dressings is just perfect. i'm all about adding some flavor that sticks, and not adding a ton of fat. this = awesome! and thanks again!

Marni said...

Jeni Treehugger - Thanks! Viscosity *is* an awesome word, isn't it? ;)

Jessy - You're welcome! I hope you give it a try and you guys love it like we do.

Erin said...

Haha, I love the phrase "larger vegan". I'm currently looking to lighten up my foods, I'll have to give this a try.