Balsamic Hazelnut Vinaigrette

I like the Tourangelle line of nut oils. I find them to be full flavored, fresh, and relatively inexpensive for the quality, which I find to be consistent.

3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 tablespoon sweet-hot mustard
4 tablespoons hazelnut oil
5 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral flavored oil) — if needed

Put the shallot, vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme into a non-reactive bowl and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.

Add the mustard and whisk thoroughly to incorporate.

In a thin steady stream, slowly whisk in all the hazelnut oil. Then, do the same with the grapeseed oil, whisking vigorously until you have a thick emulsion. Taste the dressing and adjust as necessary.

Blender Method:
Add the first five ingredients to the blender and blend on high for one minute. Allow flavors to develop for five minutes, and then, with the blender on high, slowly drizzle in the oil through the hole in the in the center of the lid until the dressing is emulsified. This is usually signified by the hole in the center of the dressing (while the dressing is spinning in the blender) filling in. You may not need all of the oil called for in the ingredients list.

Chef’s Notes and Tips:
This recipe is fairly easy to cut in half, but I do not recommend trying to make it in the blender at half size.

If you want to up the hazelnut flavor and give the dressing a “creamy” texture, use a mortar and pestle to pulverize a 5-10 roasted hazelnuts to a paste and add this to the vinegar, then proceed with the recipe.

YIELD: Around 1 cup, at least enough for 4 salads.

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