In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned a new trick stemming from a panzanella salad. And you probably thought, “All you do is talk about panzanella. What could you possible have to tell us now?” It’s true. I do love me some panzanella, and I know I’ve talked about it quite a bit here. But what could be better than grilled vegetables, grilled french bread, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and balsamic vinegar? I dare you to find a salad that’s more perfect for the summer! But actually, this trick has nothing to do with the first five of these ingredients, and everything to do with the last.
We all love balsamic vinegar. And the high quality varieties, much like a good olive oil, can really blow you away. But out in Southampton, half of the fun of cooking for the crowd is the crapshoot. Besides the seafood we catch and the produce we buy, there’s no telling what ingredients will be in the pantry. Some seem to exist indefinitely while others surprisingly disappear. So when I couldn’t find balsamic vinegar, it was equally as shocking as it was expected. But then it hit me. Apple cider vinegar sitting right next to a jar of molasses looked like a sign from above. Did I just invent “poor man’s balsamic vinegar”?
While I think this is a tremendous name for my new concoction, I can’t really say balsamic has to be expensive; but the good stuff definitely is. Even still, this idea of adding a touch of molasses to a light, bright and acidic vinegar works perfectly. The sweet depth of the molasses balances the brightness just like in an aged balsamic. I think it might even be better with your standard white wine vinegar! As far as measurements, I really couldn’t tell you. My guess would be about 1 tbsp for every 1/4 cup of vinegar. But try it out and see what you prefer. And even if you don’t see it as a replacement for balsamic, you’ll be thrilled to have this new mixture in your bag of tricks! Enjoy!