Pomegranate-Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Posted by on Nov 12, 2011 in Musings, Recipes | 3 comments

Winter Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Salads have a bad reputation with wine.

Showing up at a meal overdressed and acidic, like some people I know, they can kill a wine and a good meal in no time flat.

While I love a sharp, tangy vinaigrette on a crisp green salad, it’s just this combo that can strip a wine of its flavor. Lettuce alone doesn’t seem to have enough umami oomph to balance the acidity of a vinegary dressing. And what I’ve learned is that for wine to really work with food, the acid and salt tastes need to balanced with the umami and sweet tastes in a dish. And vice versa. So what does that mean? Should you never have salad and wine together?

For me, I now save my salad to have with some cheese, which can often provide a good balance for the wine. Or, I might choose to enjoy the salad on its own, saving the wine for a more savory course.

At this time of year, I often make salads with the bitter winter lettuces, like escarole, endive or frisee, adding a shaving of pear or a few ruby pomegranate seeds. Toasted fresh walnuts and crumbles of blue cheese or feta add another layer of flavor and umami boost. For the vinaigrette, I use verjus instead of vinegar, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Each of these ingredients adds acidity and brightness, but a softer edge to the dressing, making it more wine-friendly. I also love this vinaigrette on a salad of mixed whole grains, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate-Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
(makes ½ cup)

2 small shallots, finely minced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
3 tablespoons red verjus
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine the shallots, verjus, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine, then let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Combine the walnut and olive oils in a glass measuring cup. Whisk the oil slowly into the shallot-verjus mixture until the vinaigrette has emulsified and thickened. Whisk in the fresh ground black pepper.

 

3 Comments

  1. Oh. My. This looks incredible.

    You really hit it on the head with the acidity/wine comment. We drink a lot of wine in Paso Robles and bottle lots of walnut oil, so I’ll have to test this out at one of our next dinner parties.

    I can’t help myself – I’m going to have to share this with our fans!

    -Olivia

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