When most people think of maple syrup, they think pancakes. When I think of maple syrup, I think spring and salad. Strange? Not when you think of spring in French Canada where maple trees are tapped to release their sweet nectar in a festive process they call “sugaring off”. As for the salad? Often the spring brings about a celebration of all things green, especially fresh lettuces and veggies. While each of these things are grand events on their own, I like to combine a bit of both to create a sweet and savory Maple Syrup Vinaigrette salad dressing.
To make it even more distinctively French-Canadian, try crumbling a little bleu cheese and Canadian bacon on top.
This favorite recipe was first shared with me by a Canadian-turned-American friend who knows that I am a Canadian “wannabe” and a full-fledged Francophile, so she sent me the original recipe written in French back in 2007 – five years after I left my first home away from home – Montreal, Quebec, Canada! I still long to be a Canadian, and think that Canadian maple syrup is the best in the world, and while my French skills allow me to be able to read and follow this French recipe, I will share it with you in English! I have made it many times, and at all different times of the year. It’s quick and easy, and to make it even more distinctively French-Canadian, try crumbling a little bleu cheese and Canadian bacon on top. This recipe yields enough for 6-8 servings. However, I have also sometimes increased the recipe, and put it in pretty bottles, hand decorated the labels and given them away as gifts. So why not march into spring with your own way of ‘sugaring off’ a fresh salad?
Maple Syrup Vinaigrette
¼ C olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard or honey mustard (I actually use old style whole grain mustard)
1 T maple syrup (Canadian, of course ;-))
1 clove of garlic, crushed or chopped finely
A pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients by stirring briskly, and pour the mixture into a bottle of your choice. At home, I like to use a maple syrup bottle that has been emptied and rinsed (not washed with soap). I like it best served slightly warmed, so I just zap it for a few seconds in the microwave just before I put it on the table. For gifts, I try to find some ornate glass bottles that have a lug cap or a vacuum seal in the lid. If you store the extra in the refrigerator, the maple syrup can get thick. So, you’ll want to take it out of the fridge and shake it vigorously to remix everything and serve it cold, or you can take it out about an hour before serving, shake it well and serve it at room temperature. Voila. Bon appetite!