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~ Sweet and Tangy Honey-Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

IMG_1239For me, it's salad season the entire year, however, now that the warm weather has finally arrived, it's real-deal salad season.  I'm talking Summer salads made with a wider variety of higher-quality vegetables from local farmers' markets, and, in the upcoming weeks and months, veggies picked from my own garden.  These are salads I love to serve next to my favorite grilled meats, poultry, and, yes, even seafood -- no other side dishes need apply.  For that reason, I find myself taking the time to scratch-make dressings and vinaigrettes oftener, meaning, on a regular basis.

This vinaigrette is remarkably easy to make, as well as remarkably popular -- after all, almost everyone likes the sweet-and-savory combination of honey-and-mustard.  It requires just a few ingredients and takes just a few minutes.  In true vinaigrette style, it's thin and drizzly, but, it contains just enough Dijon mustard to keep it emulsified for a longer time, meaning, it doesn't separate like typical oil-and-vinegar mixtures.  It's fantastic on any cold vegetable salad or any hot roasted or grilled vegetable medley, and, it goes particularly well with grilled pork or poultry. There's more.  Because it's mayonnaise free, it's simply perfect for outdoor entertaining.

After all, who doesn't like combination of honey & mustard.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09c2342e970dA bit about honey:  The earliest written reference to honey dates back to the Egyptians in 5500 B.C., but, honeybees were making honey long before historical records were written.  Only relatively recently, mid 19th Century, did sugar become available and affordable to the average Westerner.  Prior to that, it was a very expensive luxury for the wealthy, because it had to be imported over long distances. Honeybees native to Asia, were brought to the New World by the Colonists in 1622, and honey was their primary sweetening agent for tea, cakes, cookies and candies. Once it got introduced to the Native Americans, honey became a popular item to trade too.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2a9567d970cA bit about mustard:  Mustard is the world's oldest manmade condiment. There are recipes for mustard that date back to 42 A.D. in Roman writings, but, it wasn't popularized until their seeds were exported to Gaul (France).  By the 13th Century, food peddlers were selling their homemade mustard concoctions all over France, and, in the 16th Century, legal protection was given to the mustard makers and their secret recipes (which varied greatly from maker to maker).  In time, a few mustard makers began experimenting with substituting green grape juice ("verjus" -- "green juice") for vinegar, which produced a milder taste we now associate with their white-wine-made Dijon.

A bit about honey-mustard:  It was only a matter of time before the mustard makers added a bit of honey to sweeten their Dijon a tad, to gentle it down even further.  Next, French chef's began adding honey-and-mustard to their mayonnaise-based dressings and oil-and-vinegar-based vinaigrettes, along with other ingredients: various herbs (basil, dill, rosemary, thyme), garlic and onion.  I'd say that was the beginning of the honey-mustard dressing/vinaigrette/sauce industry.

White balsamic vinegar -- it's the key ingredient in my very special sweet-&-savory honey-mustard vinaigrette:

IMG_12156  tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

6  tablespoons olive oil

6  tablespoons honey

3  tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2  teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic

1/2  teaspoon dehydrated minced onion

1/2  teaspoon coarse-grind pepper

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

IMG_1218 IMG_1218 IMG_1236~ Step 1.  Measure and place all ingredients, as listed, into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Secure the lid and shake vigorously until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified, about 30 seconds.  Store, covered and at room temperature, until serving time.  Shake the dressing again briefly just prior to serving.  For long-term storage, place in the refrigerator.  Return to room temperature prior to shaking and serving.

Drizzle over your favorite salad -- a little goes a long way:

IMG_1264Try it on my Sweet Potato Salad w/Apples & Candied Pecans:

IMG_1364Sweet and Tangy Honey-Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette:  Recipe yields a generous 3/4 cup. 

Special Equipment List:  small jar w/tight-fitting lid

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2a96508970cCook's Note:  Honey mustard.  It's one of the simplest condiments in the food world to make.  In my kitchen, I use it as a salad dressing, a sandwich spread, a dip for vegetables, and occasionally, a glaze for baked ham.  In the '80's, when my kids were in elementary school, there was always a jar on my refrigerator door.  When we were traveling, if an eatery had chicken tenders and honey-mustard sauce on their list of menu options, our boys were happy -- given a choice, all three preferred it to ranch dressing, so, that's quite an endorsement.  As for me, I love it on onion rings and Philly-style soft pretzels.  ~ Hey Honey -- Pass the Honey-Mustard Dressing ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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