Sunday, July 3, 2011
Fresh Plum Vinaigrette
The truth is, my favorite way to eat most stone fruits—from peaches to plums to cherries—is plain. I often find that they don’t need much embellishment to taste really fantastic. After all, the last thing I want to do is obscure the fresh summer flavor that I’ve waited nine long months to experience again.
Nevertheless, there are times when a few extra ingredients can really transform a star ingredient like peaches or plums. Take this salad dressing. I’ve talked before about my affinity for salads that have fruits in them and this time I took the concept one step further and decided to make a salad dressing with plums blended right into it.
It’s simple, really. Take a few ripe (almost too ripe) plums, puree them in a food processor or blender, add some Dijon mustard for tanginess, rich vinegar for sweetness (I used a black fig-infused vinegar that is similar to balsamic), and extra virgin olive oil to smooth out the flavors. What results is a complex vinaigrette that’s at once sweet, tangy, and rich. The plums add some body to the dressing, helping to keep it emulsified long after it’s blended. Paired with tender greens and freshly-cut stone fruits, this dressing truly epitomizes what summer is all about: fresh, crisp flavors and wholesome ingredients. I’m not sure that anything could ever rival my love for that idyllic peach, plum, or berry, but this comes pretty close. And that says quite a lot.
Fresh Plum Vinaigrette
There’s not much oil in the dressing because the plums add a lot of body and sweetness that counters the acidity and tang of both the mustard and vinegar. Taste the dressing after you’ve blended it and adjust with more oil if you like a less acidic vinaigrette. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender to make the dressing.
Yield: about 3/4 cup vinaigrette
2 extra-ripe, medium plums
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I used a black fig-infused one)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Over the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, squeeze each plum, cut side down, to separate the flesh from the skin. With ripe plums, the flesh should separate pretty easily. Keep squeezing until all the flesh and juice is in the bowl of the food processor. Repeat with the rest of the plum halves.
Pulse the plum flesh and juice until fully blended. It should be a smooth puree. Add the mustard, olive oil, and vinegar. Process until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and, if necessary, more oil or vinegar).
Serve with tender salad greens, such as spinach, arugula, or a mesclun mix, along with other fresh stone fruits like peaches, plums, and cherries. I even added some fresh yellow peppers for a sweet crunch. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator (emulsified!), covered, for up to a week.