Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cranberry Vinaigrette, FTW!

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:

romaine, chopped
alfalfa sprouts
dried cranberries (bringing in the theme of the vinaigrette...)
sliced almonds
sliced mushrooms
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??

Bon appetit!



  1. This looks great, I LOVE sweet salad dressings!

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