The secret’s out! Not only is coffee a worldwide favorite beverage, but it’s a handy flavor-enhancing tool for cooks and bakers, too. Really?
Absolutely! And this vinaigrette is proof. Most people will not pick out bold coffee flavor in this dressing but instead taste a lovely bright, sweet-savory flavor combination, which is heightened thanks to brewed coffee. And a splash of real maple syrup is perfect for adding a taste of springtime sweetness.
Now, why doesn’t this dressing separate like most homemade versions? Well, there are several factors helping to keep the ingredients that don’t enjoy each others’ company – think vinegar and oil – emulsified or evenly combined. Both mustard and ground nuts work as emulsifiers in this recipe. And using a powerful food processor helps make the emulsion tight, lasting about a week in the refrigerator. I especially love the fact that the good-for-you olive oil does not solidify in this dressing after being refrigerated!
But the true beauty of vinaigrette that stays well-mixed is in each bite. All the flavors remain in perfect combination, clinging to the greens. (No more searching for the vinegar, which slid into a pool beneath the greens.) So, you taste the dressed salad at its very best.
Think of this recipe as a template for making more dressings, too. Change the acid (balsamic vinegar in this case) to lemon juice or different vinegar, use honey instead of maple syrup, and change the walnuts to another favorite nut. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just beware … once you start making your own vinaigrette's at home, it’ll be hard to go back to bottled!
Balsamic Coffee Vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, halved
2 tablespoons brewed Community® coffee, cooled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons roughly chopped and toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Place multipurpose blade in food processor. With processor running, add garlic through the feed tube to mince. Add coffee, vinegar, syrup, walnuts, mustard, salt and white pepper. Process a few seconds until mixed; scrape down sides of bowl. With processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the feed tube; process until completely combined.
Makes about 7 (2-tablespoon) servings
- To toast nuts, place in heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-4 minutes. Cool.
- Toast more nuts than the recipe calls for and sprinkle on top of the salad.
- If you don’t have a food processor, try a blender. Or, place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and vigorously shake. Just be sure to very finely mince the garlic and nuts before adding.
- Variations: Substitute different vinegars or lemon juice for balsamic; try honey instead of maple syrup; use another favorite nut instead of walnuts. For a more mellow (less “vinegary”) dressing, increase the amount of olive oil to suit your preference (one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition).
- Allergic to nuts? Leave them out. The vinaigrette may separate more quickly than if using them, but it still will have great flavor.
- The vinaigrette should keep about 1 week in the refrigerator.
- Salad serving suggestion: favorite greens, thin strips of prosciutto, blue or other favorite cheese, toasted walnuts and chopped dried figs or dates.
Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.