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the sunburn of my discontent

Recipe: maple balsamic vinaigrette

There’s nothing like a sunburn to remind me of the necessity for sunblock, long-sleeved shirts, and a good hat in the sunny months. I guess that is a misnomer since it’s almost always sunny in Colorado – I mean the summer months. Except anytime the mercury rises above 60°F, I call that summer. Last Friday the weather forecast was originally for an overcast morning. I thought that sounded ideal because I had a shoot in the morning and a foraging date with Wendy in the afternoon. Instead, deep blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds greeted me as I drove into Boulder. Both of my appointments were outside and I even thought to bring my hats (a broad-rimmed sunhat and my favorite Patagonia duckbill cap), yet I didn’t put them on because the air temperature was comfortably cool.

meet tara, she’s really tall

Now that my hair is short, it won’t tie back into a nice ponytail. That’s okay though, because short hair affords greater air flow over my scalp – the advection transporting heat away and cooling me off. But I really dislike having hair in my face, so I have taken to haphazardly tying my hair into two Pebbles-style ponytails that emerge from my head asymmetrically. It works. The part resembles the trace of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and now it is emblazoned on my head as a red, sunburned Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Lesson learned (again).

blue mustard or musk mustard (chorispora tenella)

hello asparagus!

cottonwood catkins

Just last week, I took some pie over to my neighbors’ parents (who are visiting) and when they returned the plate to Jeremy, Grandpa quipped that we had seen all four seasons in the past day. It’s true. We are transitioning from weekly winter snow storms (man, those were awesome) to afternoon thunderstorms, sunshine, hummingbirds zooming around like the little adrenaline junkies they are, and overnight temperatures that won’t drop below freezing. And that means more salads. I like to mix a batch of dressing to keep on hand throughout the week. Homemade dressings are so simple and infinitely superior to store-bought dressings. They are absolutely worth the little bit of effort to make them.

this time: maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot, dijon mustard (not pictured: salt, pepper)

I first tasted this dressing on a delightful green salad during my trip to Verhampshire in March. Sharon was sweet enough to request the recipe from the Chesterfield Inn for me, but then life got busy and I shelved it (okay, I archived it in gmail). But look, I’ve dug it up because when you eat a lot of salads, it helps to have several great dressings from which to choose.


pouring balsamic vinegar into the blender with the mustard and shallots

don’t forget your pure maple syrup

A blender is a wonderful thing and I really like how quickly my Vitamix whips up dressings. Any blender should do the trick, even my old one that I divorced and gave to Wendy last year. When the mustard, shallots, vinegar, and maple syrup (real maple syrup – no one needs that fake stuff) are smooth, I pour it into a bowl and whisk in the olive oil until it reaches the consistency and flavor that I like. A little salt and pepper to taste and you’re done.

pour into a bowl

slowly drizzle olive oil as you whisk it into the dressing

dress your salad

The vinaigrette is sweet and tangy and a little goes a long way. Serve it with any salad. I usually make a salad with whatever happens to be in the refrigerator or on my counters: butter lettuce, baby mixed greens, spinach, roasted asparagus, tomatoes, dried cranberries, avocado, cucumber, feta, goat cheese, roasted beets, oranges, apples – almost anything goes. Here, I’ve added a little roast chicken to make it a meal. I am ready for summer… I think.

i could eat this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

dig in!

Bob’s Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
[print recipe]
modified from the Chesterfield Inn

1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp shallot, chopped
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used grade B)
3/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
white pepper to taste

Place the dijon mustard, shallot, vinegar, and maple syrup together in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the liquid into a bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream into the bowl while whisking. Season with salt and pepper. Makes just under 2 cups of dressing.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

coconut lime cilantro dressing japanese ginger dressing miso salad dressing house dressing

15 nibbles at “the sunburn of my discontent”

  1. Zypresse says:

    hmmz, I am used to honey and mustard in my vinaigrette – but I will try maple syrup next time. That sounds yummie!

  2. Kristin says:

    Mmmm. I’ve been relying on miso dressing lately, but some variety sounds like a great idea.

  3. Jane | Not Plain So Jane says:

    Looks delicious. Good olive oil & balsamic can go a long way. The picture of the asparagus is great!

  4. brandi says:

    i love using maple syrup in dressings – it adds such a deep, rich flavor, and this one looks perfect.

  5. Louise says:

    Looks delicious! I was wondering why you didn’t add the oil while everything was in the blender, but instead whisked it in by hand?

  6. JulieT says:

    Please advise as to storage: does one need to bring the dressing to room temp if not using immediately? Can’t wait to try this one. FYI, Olivedre in Boulder sells an awesome Maple Balsamic Vinegar that is addictive.

  7. Tina says:

    Looks amazing! And right up my alley.

    I have not tried this yet… but I think that coconut oil is a great sunblock.

  8. Pey-Lih says:

    Short hair allows me to be more aerodynamic on my bike! :-) I am like a hummingbird on my bike. I never thought of being an adrenaline junkie, but that’s a fair assessment. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Mrs Ergül says:

    My husband is a salad monster so this helps! Thanks!!

  10. Tiff says:

    Looks like this will be an amazing dressing! Will definitely have to try this out since I have all the ingredients within reach!

  11. Ofelia F. Ewing says:

    Too often, sweetness and balance are forgotten and neglected in savory cooking, but where there is spicy, tangy, umami and acid, there should be sweet. Two of my favorite ways to incorporate maple syrup into savory cooking is with meat rubs and salad dressings.

  12. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    I make one very similar to this for every day use. I can attest to the fact that everyone loves it!

  13. farmerpam says:

    Nice! Use REAL syrup, us sugarmakers put real love into that stuff!

  14. jenyu says:

    Louise – oh, because I’m lazy and don’t like cleaning the blender if it’s oily ;) Also, because I always taste the dressing as I add oil so I know when to stop.

    Julie – So, I’ve been storing it in the refrigerator and when I want to use it, I try to let it sit out at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes. It doesn’t take that long for it to become liquid again since it’s olive oil. Hope that helps!

    Tina – either that or it makes us taste great! ;)

    Ofelia – I agree!

    farmerpam – I am really loving using maple syrup in my cooking (but still love it on pancakes and waffles!!)

  15. Louise says:

    Thanks for feedback re. whisking oil by hand ;-)

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