Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

Balsamic Vinegar - Effortlessly Complex Flavor

616-alaskahalibutcaprese -smFor people who study and collect wines (and can actually pronounce "oenology" correctly), the use of traditional balsamic vinegars -- grape-based reductions that have been aged and rendered sweet with a discernible viscosity -- would seem to be a reasonable next step.

A step that scares the mess out of us normal cooks.

Don't worry, we're talking about approachable, everyday balsamic vinegars that are quite friendly in the kitchen. Balsamic vinegar gives you options, and the complexity of its taste lends the impression that you've worked harder than you really did.

You can choose to... (This is where it gets fun):

...Add it (sparingly!) to a marinade for just about anything
...Drip it (again, sparingly) on veggies, a salad or slaw
...Dab it with artisan breads (sparingly? not always: sometimes we like to get buck-wild)

AND/OR

...Dress it up as a quickie reduction that can be drizzled on whatever's worthy of decadent drizzling activity. Just the word "drizzle" implies that you're not haphazardly slapping together a piece of cheese and a tomato.

Or are you?

Actually, that's exactly what we'd recommend! Balsamic vinegar works well when you aren't; you're gettin' outta your own way & letting this contradictory, "naughty-nice" vinegar do its thing.

A friend with a knack for Italian cuisine taught us the simple elegance of doing a Caprese salad: sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That's it, seriously. If she wanted to get all fancy, she'd do a reduction -- cooking some of the moisture out of the vinegar to make it slightly thicker -- and then drizzle (there's that word again) the reduction on the salad.

Oh, grazie, grazie... What a spectacular bite of summer!

Find your own bit of effortless summer splendor at your area Fiesta.