Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

The only salad dressing you’ll ever need. (Featuring a few tricks I picked up from my father.)

Makes around two cups of dressing, enough for a week of salads. You could cut the amounts in half for a smaller batch, but don’t bother, as you will want more soon — if you’ve got a large enough container to hold it, go ahead and double the recipe, as it can be safely stored in a closed container at room temperature.

Olive oil, 1 cup
Use a nice olive oil, typically marked “extra virgin”.

Balsamic Vinegar, 1/2 cup
For a lighter taste you can use a red-wine vinegar, or a mixture of the two.

Maple syrup, a bit less than 1/4 cup

Variations: Any combination of optional ingredients, totaling a quarter cup or less:

Whole grain mustard, about a tablespoon
Fresh goat cheese, about a tablespoon, finely crumbled or mashed into a paste
Fresh garlic, one clove, finely grated or mashed into a paste, about half of a tablespoon

Try using the suggested amounts above for a good every-day vinaigrette, or use just some of them to accentuate the flavors of a particular salad.

For example, a light salad of pears and endives might benefit from a sweet and creamy sauce made with maple syrup and goat cheese, but no garlic.

For a heavier spinach salad you might prefer a lot of mustard and garlic with only half the suggested amount of maple syrup.

If you’re uncomfortable with garlic’s pungency, use just part of a clove, or if you’re a garlic lover, as much as two large cloves.

Put everything into a jar or other container with a tightly-fitting lid and shake very vigorously. Keep shaking until all of the ingredients have merged, forming slightly-thickened emulsified whole.

Variation: You can also use a blender or food processor to whip the ingredients together.

Serve over field greens or other lettuces. Also a good flavor accent drizzled over a variety of savory foods that could use a little sweet and tangy kick.

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