Balsamic vinegar is one of the more common gourmet vinegars used in making low carb, oil based dressings – although there is nothing common about balsamic vinegar. The trend toward improved heart health has also led to low carb choices that assist in attaining elusive weight loss for many. Today, oil and vinegar is becoming a family staple.
Balsamic vinaigrette dressings will be best received by family and friends when tossed through lettuce leaves or drizzled over sliced tomatoes and cucumbers just prior to serving. Tossing the salad too early renders leafy vegetables droopy and unattractive.
Oil and Vinegar – Shaken Not Stirred
Oil by itself can be used as a salad dressing; however it is an acid like balsamic vinegar that makes the dressing more palatable to family and guests. A mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar provides a uniquely satisfying meal time vinaigrette.
Tasty Homegrown Experiments
Flavored oils that are unique to your own family recipes can be made at home. Herb oil, for example and be made by gently heating a desired amount of olive oil, then adding chopped basil or chives. Your pan should be removed from the heat and covered until the mixture is cool. You can mix the cooled product together using a blender. Once smooth you should strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve. These oils should be blended up to four days prior to planned get-togethers and stored in a corked bottle to let the flavors merge.
Spicy chili oil can be made by gently heating olive oil, adding several finely chopped fresh chilies to the sauce pan, along with a bay leaf and an unpeeled garlic clove. You should let mixture cool thoroughly then strain through a fine mesh sieve and store in a corked bottle.
Factoid: ‘Balsamic’ means ‘like balsam’. Balsam is an aromatic resin and the term balsamic vinegar is a common reference to the fact that the end result is thick (resin like) and aromatic.
Low Carb Dressings
One of the many health benefits of balsamic vinegar (as well as other quality vinegars) and olive oil is the low carb nature of the mixture. Variations on these recipes may help you discover a unique flavor that is perfect for a family recipe. You can use the following recipes for guilt free meals and snacks.
Easy Italian Dressing
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons of granular sugar
Italian seasoning of choice
Shake or stir ingredients together. Keep tasting until you find the right combo of vinegar and oil. If you like it less sweet, then add less sugar.
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/4 cup of your favorite vinegar
3 cloves of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of granular sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar with secure cap, shake well until well blended. Leave to cool in fridge for an hour or so before serving.
Mediterranean Salad Mix
1/2 envelope of Good Seasons® Italian
1/2 envelope Good Seasons® Garlic and Herb
Apple Cider Vinegar
Using the Good Seasons® carafe fill to the vinegar line with apple cider vinegar and olive oil. DO NOT USE ANY WATER, even though there is a fill line for water, use vinegar only. Chop some romaine lettuce and top with crumbled feta cheese, red onion slices and black olives. Serve with chilled dressing.
“The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven, I can scarcely expect bread.” — Thomas Jefferson
A low carb diet may not be for everyone, but a reduction in dietary carbohydrates is an idea that’s hard to argue against.
When a natural combination of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar provide so much taste with so many health benefits it becomes a message worth sharing – both verbally and in dishes that we make for our family and friends.
Whether it’s balsamic vinaigrette for a spinach salad or olive oil as the base for Easy Italian Dressing, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests this good tasting food is good for you.
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