This summer, I’ve been having an affair. No, not in the bedroom, in the kitchen. I’m passionately in love with a vinegar; not just any vinegar, but white balsamic vinegar.
It all started when I was ordering groceries to pick up from McCalls Meat & Fish (yes, I know I mention them a lot). Their online store has an oils and vinegars section, so I checked out their offerings and saw that they had white balsamic. I’d never used white balsamic before, but I was intrigued, so I bought it. And that’s when everything changed. I started feeling feelings I’d never felt about a vinegar before.
The tomatoes in my tomato salad were like the Von Trapp children and the white balsamic was Fraulein Maria, bringing joy and music where there hadn’t been joy and music in a long time. (The one above has cucumbers, Feta, olive oil, the white balsamic, salt, pepper, and za’atar sprinkled on top.)
What makes it so good? White balsamic has a roundness to it; it’s not as sharp and syrupy as regular balsamic. It has a sweet and sour vibe that brings any salad to life. My favorite way to use it is in a Caesar-ish dressing.
In a large bowl, I whisk together a teaspoon or so of anchovy paste, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a splash of the white balsamic, and then enough olive oil (added slowly while whisking) to emulsify. To that I add shredded radicchio, arugula, a sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of grated Parmesan.
It’s not a Caesar salad by any means; it’s better.
My fling with white balsamic isn’t exclusive to salads. I use it in sautéed vegetables, like corn; I’ve drizzled it on to soups. I could even imagine mixing it with berries and sugar to make that classic Italian dessert that normally uses the red stuff.
But salads are where white balsamic and I are happiest. Here’s one we did together with a creamy dressing involving a tablespoon each of mayo and sour cream, a splash of buttermilk, and then a splash of the white balsamic, and enough olive oil to bring it all together. (The lettuce is Boston lettuce, with red pepper, scallions, and toasted, chopped almonds.)
So if your summer was a dull one, it’s not too late. Get yourself a bottle of white balsamic and go to town. Your husband never needs to know.
Dorie Greenspan’s Mustard Bottle Vinaigrette (Amateur Gourmet)
What Is White Balsamic Vinegar and Why Do Chefs Love It? (Bon Appetit)
What’s The Deal With: White Balsamic Vinegar? (The Kitchn)