Monday, November 29, 2010

Pomegranate , Garbanzo beans & Roasted butternut squash Salad with Olive Oil and Balsmaic vinegar dressing

Balsamic vinegar is a thick, sweet smelling vinegar made from the pure and unfermented juice of grapes, called the "must." Although different varieties of grapes can be used to create balsamic vinegar, the Trebbiano grape, native to Modena, Italy, is the most common.The process of making balsamic vinegar begins by boiling the grape juice until it becomes a thick syrup. It is then transferred to the wooden barrels to start the aging process. Bacteria is added, which oxidizes the juice and turns it into vinegar. This can take from 6 months to several years. The balsamic vinegars sold in the average grocery store are probably only aged for a few months in stainless steel tanks.

Some balsamic vinegars have been aged for over 100 years in casks which are made of different woods like chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash, and, in the past, juniper. True balsamic vinegar is rich, glossy, deep brown in color and has a complex flavor that balances the natural sweet and sour elements of the cooked grape juice with hints of wood from the casks.It is this aging process that makes true balsamic vinegar from Modena in Northern Italy so expensive.True aceto balsamic vinegar comes in 3.4 ounce bottles and sells from $50.00 to $500.00 per bottle. It must be aged a minimum of 10 year. The better balsamic vinegars are aged 25 to 50 years ,these are not to be poured, but used by the drop. Dark in color and syrupy in consistency, they have a flavor that is a balance of sweet and sour.

Commercial grade Balsamic vinegars are available in grocery stores and serve well in cooking and salad dressings.They are not aged as the authentic vinegars and are made to mimic the color and aroma with the addition of colouring, caramel and sometimes thickeners like guar gum or cornflour.

Ingredients: for the dressing
  1. Balsamic vinegar - 5 tbsp
  2. Olive Oil - 10 tbsp
  3. Garlic - 2 cloves crushed and finely chopped
  4. Sugar - 1 tsp
  5. Salt - to taste
  6. freshly crushed black pepper - 1/2 tsp
  7. Italian seasoning - 1/4 tsp (dried blend of Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Savory, Sage, Oregano, and Basil)
For the Salad:
  1. Fresh Romaine - 3 cups washed ,dried and torn into bite sized pieces
  2. Roasted butternut squash - 1/2 cup diced
  3. Pomegranate seeds - 1/2 cup
  4. Red onion - few pieces thinly sliced
  5. Grape tomatoes - 5 halved
  6. Dried cranberry - 2 tbsp
  7. Fresh steamed Garbanzo beans - 1/2 cup
  8. Carrot strips - 1/4 cup
Add all the ingredients for the dressing into a small bottle with a tight fitting lid. CLose the lid and shake well to combine. This dressing can be refrigerated for a week to use later.
Combine all ingredients for the salad when ready to serve and drizzle with the dressing.

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