Cooking and baking is sometimes described as science… but I like to think of it more like magic. Because sometimes an idea unfolds and is realized in food form with a way that is almost mysterious, yet very exciting!
This week this magic happened with an idea for vinaigrette. I actually had this concept in my head many years ago, when I was writing Vive le Vegan. I toyed with it, but left it behind at the time. As recipe developers, we sometimes do this. Either the notion becomes further developed down the road as our cooking evolves, or it never materialized.
The idea that was with me for years and manifested this week is… wait for it… using applesauce in a fat-free (or low-fat) vinaigrette. Sounds a little strange at first, right? But, think about the qualities of applesauce. It has viscosity and moisture (the very things that help replace fat in baking) so why not aid a vinaigrette as well? Initially the combination didn’t quite come together for me in terms of flavor balance. After a few rounds of testing this week – ta-dah! The magic happened. The applesauce blends and helps emulsify the other ingredients so that you have a thicker, more rich and full-bodied textured dressing.
If you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that if I don’t omit oil in a recipe (some I do), usually I keep it at a minimum in most of my recipes. I do the same for sweeteners. For me, cooking and baking is about heightening nutrition without compromising flavor. In LTEV, there are a number of healthy whole-foods and oil-free salad dressings and sauces, but some of them have nuts and seeds (or nut/seed butters). Still, some of you have been e-mailing for more low-fat and oil-free sauces and dressings, and options without any seeds or nuts. So, this one’s for you (and there are more in store, stay tuned)!
Here, I’ve used a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons. Those are not chopped tomatoes sprinkled over the zucchini, but strawberries. Strawberries and balsamic are a beautiful flavor combination. A few lightly salted pistachios round out the plate.
“Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette gluten-free, oil-free LINK to PRINT/SHARE
This dressing uses applesauce to emulsify the ingredients and produce a surprisingly thick vinaigrette that is virtually fat-free! Try it as is first, and then play with some of the seasonings to your own preferences.
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)
3/4 – 1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or more to sweeten to taste if desired)
1/4 tsp (rounded) sea salt (or more to taste)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Using an immersion blender and deep cup (if using a blender, you may need to double the batch for enough blending volume), combine all ingredients, whizzing through until very smooth. Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter add another teaspoon or so of maple syrup. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as well. If you’d like a thinner dressing, simply add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend through again.
What are you favorite vinaigrette and salad dressing ingredients?