Twice as Tasty

Raspberry Vinaigrette

When a salad has to be simple, a fruity dressing stands out with its flavor, color and texture

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing.

In early spring, a basic vinaigrette brings out the tender greens and stalks in salads like Arugula Salad with Asparagus and Shaved Parmesan. At the peak of the growing season, everything from carrots to bell peppers to onions can be plucked for a Crunchy Cabbage Salad simply dressed with lime juice and oil. But when homegrown lettuce is on the cusp of bolting and everything else in the garden is just beginning to set its fruit, a flavorful dressing can star in a minimalist salad.

A blended vinaigrette disguises the seediness of berries, smoothing out whole fresh or frozen raspberries. I also roast raspberries for fruit syrups to shrubs, draining off the juice and leaving the pulp behind. Even this seedy pulp can be whizzed at high speed into a silky vinaigrette.

If you mash the fresh or frozen berries or are using roasted pulp, you can get away with my preferred technique for mixing salad dressings: sealing the ingredients in a jar and shaking. Here, I prefer a food processor to remove any chunkiness. Take advantage of the feed tube if your processor has one. Otherwise, you can stop the processor to add ingredients and then pulse until you reach the desired consistency.

Honey plays two roles in this dressing: it sweetens the berries and acts as an emulsifier that helps to combine the ingredients. Reducing the dressing’s sweetness might make the vinegars and oils more likely to separate.

Although I usually use extra-virgin olive oil in shaken dressings, it overpowers this vinaigrette, making sunflower and another light oil a better choice. Olive oil also has lots of polyphenols, bitter compounds that are intensified by high-speed processing. Neutral oils don’t have the same issue, another reason to choose them for any dressing you mix with a food processor.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

1/2 cup fresh or frozen and defrosted raspberries

1 shallot, chopped (optional)

1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 tablespoons sunflower oil

In a small food processor, blend the raspberries and shallot, if desired, until smooth. With the machine running, slowly pour the balsamic and red wine vinegars and the honey through the feed tube and process until well blended. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. With the food processor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube, blending until thick and creamy.

Pour the vinaigrette immediately over salad greens, or transfer it to a lidded jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several weeks. Shake well or blend again before serving.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.