Here I sit, Sunday morning--dishes done, laundry underway, veg stock boiling away on the stove, more acorn squash bread on the agenda, eating a second round of my dinner from Saturday night. And WHAT a dinner it was...
I had been blabbing about making my cranberry vinaigrette for a while now, at least a week or two, and I FINALLY got around to making it. Do you have leftover fresh cranberries? MAKE A VINAIGRETTE!
There are really three steps to this recipe. First, you make the "jelly;" then you make the actual vinaigrette; and finally you make the croutons.
First, the "jelly:"
1 bag fresh cranberries (I used Ocean Spray brand)
1 cup turb. sugar
1 cup water
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a pan, making sure the sugar has completely dissolved. This is essentially a simple syrup. Reduce heat.
Add the bag o'cranberries (good to rinse and drain them first though). They will begin popping after about 30 seconds or so. The addition of a lid would be great at this point, unless you want to get popped with hot syrup! Cook the cranberries in the syrup for about 10-12 minutes and then let cool a bit off of the heat. Strain the pulp through a sieve into a dish that you can fit into the refrigerator to cool completely. This will not really set into a firm jelly, but it works for the vinaigrette. I imagine you could probably save the remaining pulp for something, maybe a bread, but I just tossed mine out.
After the "jelly" has cooled in the fridge, it's time to build the vinaigrette!
1/2 cup cranberry "jelly"
1 cup oil (I used olive for this)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 of a minced shallot
S & P
chopped, fresh dill (maybe 1 tbsp?)
It is best to have an immersion hand blender for this, but you could whir it in a food processor or blender as well. First add the cranberry "jelly," shallot, and vinegar and whir. Then add the dill and salt/pepper and whir again. Then add the oil while the mixer is on, if you can. What you get will be a wonderfully PINK dressing that looks splendid on any salad!
Also, I made some shallot-crusted croutons for the salad. I used two slices of the artisan bread I had sitting around from the grilled cheese sandys earlier this week. Cube the bread, toss with oil, S&P, and oregano. Spread out the cubes on a pan. Combine half a minced shallot and a spot of oil in a bowl and use a brush to coat/spoon the mixture onto the bread cubes. Don't worry if some makes it onto the pan instead of the bread. Those will turn out well, too :) Bake at 250deg. for about an hour, checking every now and then.
After those have cooled, it's time to make the salad! You can go in any direction with this, I am sure of it, but here is what I did:
dried cranberries (bringing in the theme of the vinaigrette...)
topped with the croutons and cranberry vinaigrette
Look at that GORGEOUS cranberry vinaigrette!
Another benefit: now I have leftover cranberry syrup to use in smoothies, desserts, what have you! And I'm still working through the vinaigrette...thinking of putting it on roasted veggies...why buy a bottle of stuff when you can make it??