Persimmon hill farm
September 30, 2021

Purple Velvety Deliciousness: Elderberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Martha Bohner

Let's face it: the key to a great salad is the dressing. Usually, the salad itself is healthy - a select blend of lettuces, baby spinach, tomatoes, slivers of cucumbers and carrots, and other chopped veggies. You feel great about your 100-or-so calorie meal choice. But salad without dressing is usually pretty dry and, honestly, bland. So you pour on a dressing to coat those greens and add some zing. But many dressings are loaded with mayonnaise, cream, sour cream, sodium, soybean oil and even (gasp) high fructose corn syrup. Pour on enough and your healthy salad now has the fat and calories of a burger.

But when you make your own dressings, you can control what goes in them. I absolutely love a great fresh vinaigrette like this Elderberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, with the mellow woodsy-ness of balsamic vinegar combined with the zesty kick of red wine vinegar, plus the fruity notes of elderberry or blueberry juice. I always use olive oil for the healthy fat, but you can vary the amount of oil (or even use none) to accommodate your own tastes and dietary needs. The right blend of oil and vinegar (usually 2 or 3 parts oil to 1 part acid/vinegar) plus the emulsifying properties of mustard and honey will make the vinegar and juice (the flavor ingredients) coat and stick to the lettuces, ensuring great flavor with each bite. A blender will give you a tight emulsion or mixture, and whisking is almost as good, but shaking the ingredients in a jar or cruet will work longer enough to yield a somewhat homogenous mixture to pour. But it's all your choice. In a pinch, a salad splashed with oil with a fresh lemon squeezed over it makes a decent quick dressing. So when you can add the flavors you really like, like balsamic vinegar and elderberry juice, mixed with oil in the the proportions that work for you, you've got a winning formula for salad superiority!

Get the recipe here.

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