January kind of gets me down. All the celebrations (and food) from Thanksgiving through Christmas and even New Year’s, then that “What have I done feeling” when it’s all over. Then there are the New Year’s Resolutions. And the cold. And even though every day brings another minute or so of light, the dark, dreary winter. But sometimes, there’s an opportunity to inject a little sunshine into your life, and this Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette is just that.
I became enamored of the idea of a combo of white balsamic combined with the bright zest of orange after coming across a salad from Cubby’s Restaurant, a Beet & Goat Cheese Salad, which is coming up next. I gotta tell ya, I have an amazing Citrus Honey Vinaigrette on my site already and it’s so good you’ll want to just drink it. It’s very, very good.
About Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette:
But sometimes I like to get a little serious, down and dirty (I’m not really a bad girl…but) just a bit “grittier” and thought the White Balsamic would bring a deeper, sharper element to offset the larger amount of citrusy orange zest I wanted to use. I think I was right. This dressing has a little sweet, yes, but also garlicky, citrusy and peppery and, well, zesty. More robust, I think is the word I’m searching for.
Truthfully, I’ve never actually had the Cubby’s Beet & Goat Cheese Salad at their restaurant, but that wasn’t going to stop them from inspiring me. And as I developed this Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette I just knew it was enough flavor to stand up to a Spring Salad Mix. It has enough acidity enough to offset the sweet Mandarin oranges and cut through the buttery richness of the avocado in that salad, while the peppery component will accent those beets.
I can’t help but think of so many salads this Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette would be good on, though. Spinach salad comes to mind immediately, punchy arugula and even a fruit salad. And I used this same vinaigrette to sprinkle on some beets before roasting.
Making Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette:
The ingredients for Balsamic Vinaigrette, like most vinaigrettes, are simple. The surprise is there’s no actual orange juice in the dressing, just the zest, and you can see it is still a gorgeous orange color. The bonus is the orange can be supremed (cut into sections between the fibrous parts separating the sections) and added to the salad. If you don’t forget that is, and eat the orange before it gets to the salad, forgetting it’s your last one!
For this dressing, I recommend a garlic press if you have one…and if you do have or get one, try to keep track of the little part you press back through to clean it out because they are such a pain to clean without it. I make an effort to always put it in one certain section of my drawer divider every single time. Once your hands are covered in garlic, remember the little hint of rubbing your fingers on steel under running water. It really does help.
I love making my dressings in a jar; they can be shaken together and stored right in the same container. Now, this particular dressing would have been better off in a bit bigger jar, but it all just fit. If you are storing your Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette or any Vinaigrette with olive oil, store it in the door of your fridge where it’s not quite as cool; there’s less chance it will harden up. If it does harden up, set it out on the counter and it will liquify at room temp or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Saving Money on Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette:
Think about stocking up on any vinegar around Easter when, of course, the big jugs of white or cider are going to be on sale for dying eggs, but check around the corner in the condiments aisle for unadvertised salad vinegar. It’s often on sale, too. And it might be on sale throughout the summer. Stock up for the year is you like to make your own dressings. They’re so much better than store-bought, you can make any flavor you’d like and make a small enough amount that you can always be rotating in your new fave!
Oranges are usually at their best price in early winter to late spring, and you’ll find all kinds of orange on sale, too. Hello, cuties!! It doesn’t matter what kind of orange you use in this recipe; it’s fantastic even with cheap, bagged naval oranges – and since this dressing only uses the zest, it’s a great use of an orange that might be going out and a bit on the dry side.
There’s quite a bit of oil in this Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette and if you use olive oil, you’re using the good kind. This isn’t the place to look for the most expensive olive oil; it’s a part of the flavor but against the orange and balsamic flavors, the olive oil should take a back seat. This recipe makes far more than you’ll need to dress a single salad, so keep any excess for a future recipe; your homemade Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette doesn’t have any preservatives but should keep very well for 4 to 6 weeks. Your olive oil will harden in cold temperatures, so keep in the door of the fridge where it’s warmer; bring the dressing out ahead to warm up or microwave the dressing for a few seconds at a time.
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
- zest of one orange
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- several generous grinds black pepper
- 1./3 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup olive oil
In a jar, mix together all ingredients. Shake to blend. Taste and adjust. Serve immediately or store. Keeps well for several weeks.
Some oils may harden at refrigerator temperature. Keep in the door where it is less cold and bring out ahead or microwave a few seconds if needed to bring to room temperature.