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Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette or Pesto

A salad drizzled with vinaigretteFrom Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

This vinaigrette adds a new flavor to summer salads. I like to mix summer fruits with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber.

I like quite an intense sundried tomato flavor, and you might like it milder. Plus different brands of oils, vinegar, tomatoes, etc. will all make a difference in the final taste—not bad, just different. In my hands-on classes where students have their own ingredients, it is interesting to see the difference in taste just based on different brands of canned tomatoes.

This vinaigrette will keep for several days. If you use a high quantity of olive oil, refrigeration will make the vinaigrette’s olive oil look like melted butter solidified, but it will melt and reincorporate at room temperature. I don’t like to use just olive oil. I find that just extra-virgin olive oil can be quite bitter and overpower a vinaigrette. 

Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup vinaigrette, refrigerate the remainder.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼-1/2 tsp salt to your taste
  • Pinch of garlic powder. I find raw garlic stays with you.
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp avocado oil (or put the 2 tbsp olive oil in a 1/2 cup and add avocado oil to fill)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice or wine vinegar. They are all good just different. Do buy a good quality brand of balsamic vinegar, there is a huge difference in taste. Trader Joe’s has a white balsamic vinegar and with that the vinaigrette doesn’t become as dark.
  • About 4 large basil leaves. Omit if your family won’t eat little green things
  • ½ cup fresh parsley. Omit if your family won’t eat little green things
  • The green parts of 2 green onions
  • 1/2 cup water. Yes, water, but slowly for taste. If you add extra oil you’re adding to fat calories, if you add extra vinegar in large quantities then the vinaigrette will be very acidic. Years ago, Good Seasons made a packet of dry Italian seasoning you made up yourself with oil and water. Then they offered a “lite” version which really just reversed the quantities of oil and water.

Instructions:

  1. Put vinaigrette ingredients except for water, parsley, basil and green onion in a food processor, blender or an immersion blender and run until reasonably smooth but still with some bits.
  2. Add herbs and run/pulse to chop. You still want the herbs visible not pureed to a green sauce. Add water to thin or to taste. I normally taste test a vinaigrette with a piece of lettuce to get a better idea of the taste than just on a spoon.
  3. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Flavor will develop if you let it stand for an hour.

Notes: 

  1. Add some hot pepper jelly (1-3 tsps) and cilantro for a Mexican-style vinaigrette. I also like Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming blend for some heat. If you normally cook with hot spices, you know how much heat your family likes.
  2. Use different mustards. Koops makes a sweet-spicy mustard called Arizona Heat. I tend to buy Koops’ mustards since they are labeled gluten-free and include regular Dijon, honey Dijon, spicy brown and others.
  3. Add orange or lime zest and juice.
  4. Honey as a sweetener adds to the flavor.
  5. Use as the oil base to pan fry or roast fish, chicken, etc.

Pesto

To make the above vinaigrette into a pesto, add at least 1/4 cup parmesan, more basil, and nuts. Roasted cashews or roasted sunflower seeds both give a nice flavor to a pesto and sunflower seeds are safe for people with nut allergies. I don’t use pignoli (pine nuts) for my pestos because they are expensive, not so easy to find, can be rancid and have quite a strong taste. 

You can do a lot with pesto: add dollops of pesto to soup; mix it into marinara sauce; add to Alfredo sauce; mix Alfredo sauce with marinara sauce and pesto; mix into sour cream; mix into cream cheese, scones or biscuits; add to soft butter. You can add 1-2 cloves of peeled garlic since pestos are normally mixed with cooked pasta or as part of a sauce. I’ve also used freshly roasted garlic. A friend of mine makes her pesto without cheese and nuts, freezes the pesto, and only adds cheese and nuts when she thaws it and will use it immediately. What other ideas do you have?

About Chef Oonagh Williams

I have written a monthly recipe column for Beyond Celiac since January 2011. I have a Culinary Arts degree as well as celiac disease and other food allergies, so I know food and live this way daily. Remember that most real food is naturally gluten-free until manufacturers mess around with it, and only baking really needs changing. Real food is now being called clean eating.

Obviously talks and appearances are currently canceled, but you can connect with me on Facebook at Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh or on LinkedIn. I’ve just filmed recipes at home for New Hampshire’s ABC WMUR’s Cooks Corner and they are being aired. I am also being included in the nationwide library database of online presenters.

For new recipes and lots of advice, my e-cookbook Delicious Gluten-Free Cooking is only $20 and available to download at www.glutenfreecookingwithoonagh.com. It has tips, full-color photos, and recipes like grandma’s comfort soup, shrimp and crab bisque, English trifle, buffalo chicken, tiramisu, dinner party fare, and more. Follow the link to see the table of contents and thumbnail photos of the full-size photos in the e-book.

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