This versatile dressing is featured with the Arugula Cherry Salad, but it works very nicely with roast chicken or duck, charred hanging tender steak, pork chops or roasts, or grilled salmon or swordfish. The cherry syrup used in the vinaigrette is a tart or sour cherry syrup produced in Eastern Europe and is used for drinks (sodas and cocktails), but has other applications. Use it like you would pomegranate syrup or molasses. You can find it at the Corralitos Market and Sausage Company or other specialty grocery stores.
1 minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, parched* and crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons cherry syrup
6 tablespoons grape seed oil
Put the shallot, pepper to taste, salt, and thyme into a non-reactive bowl, then add the vinegars and allow flavors to marry for 20-30 minutes.
In a thin steady stream, whisk in the cherry syrup, and then the oil. Be sure to add the oil gradually so the dressing emulsifies.
Taste for balance — you might need to add a little more cherry syrup. If dressing is too tart, add some agave or sugar to balance the flavors.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Dressing can be made in a blender as well, just follow the instructions as above, but stream in the syrup and oil one after the other into the blender while it is running on high.
*Parching peppercorns takes off some the heat from the peppercorn while showing off the fruity qualities black pepper possesses. To do this, heat a small pan over medium heat and when the pan is hot, add the peppercorns and dry toast them, shaking them to prevent burning until they are very aromatic. Remove from the heat and taste one after it has cooled. The peppercorn will still have some heat, but it should not be as spicy as it was, and it should have some fruity notes to it. If not, return to the heat for a little longer and taste again. Some pepper, depending on age and type, will be fruitier or hotter than others.
YIELD: 3/4 cup dressing