- Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Virginia Houston
Versatile VinegarAdding a splash of something acidic, like vinegar, tends to brighten the flavors of almost any dish. But don't limit yourself to one variety. Like wine, vinegars each have distinct personalities from mildly sour rice wine vinegar to boldly sweet Italian balsamic. Once opened, use vinegar up within six months.
Honeydew Relish SaladHoneydew melon, cucumber, grapes, and celery make a beautiful green salad. But it's a simple dressing of honey, white wine vinegar, and mustard seeds that "pickles" and elevates these ordinary ingredients into a sweet-tart masterpiece.
Prep and Cook Time: about 45 minutes.
Pulled-Pork FajitasAn easy Carolina-style barbecue sauce of cider vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and Worcestershire put a delicious Southern spin on Mexican fajitas. Use leftover rotisserie chicken (the dark meat works best) in place of the pork for an even quicker meal.
Strawberries with Buttermilk Ice and Balsamic VinegarA granita-style frozen ice with buttermilk, lemon juice, and a tiny amount of sugar tops sliced strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Pickled Grapes With Rosemary and ChilesAdd these gorgeous spicy-tart grapes to an antipasto platter or cheese plate or stir them into chicken or mixed green salads. Guests will love the complex flavors. But the best part: prep time is 10 minutes and "pickling" happens in the fridge in just a few hours.
Zesty Vinegar ColeslawThe neat thing about adding hot salad dressing to shredded cabbage is that it wilts the greens just slightly for a wonderfully tender-crunchy texture. The dressing combines sugar, oil, and cider vinegar with pungent turmeric to put a spunky and colorful kick into an old picnic favorite.
Turmeric adds a pungent flavor and a deep yellow color. It can be found in the spice section of your grocery store.
Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions
The reduced balsamic vinegar sauce gives the flank steak a unique flavor that pairs perfectly with the caramelized onions. Both the steak and onions contribute a hefty dose of potassium to this entrée--766 milligrams in each serving. Serve with steamed broccoli or asparagus, and drizzle some of the glaze over the vegetable.
Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic ButterBalsamic vinegar is reduced to make a thick, sweet glaze to toss with butter, pasta, and whatever vegetable is in season. Since the formula is so simple, it's easy to substitute seasonal vegetables–including broccoli, green beans, or roasted bell pepper strips–for the asparagus.
Simmering the balsamic vinegar both mellows and thickens it. When tossed with the hot pasta and the butter, it forms a smooth, uniquely flavored sauce.
Be it balsamic or just the plain apple cider variety, vinegar perks up the flavor of salads, barbecue, and even dessert.