By Ali Struhs
When you think of vinegar, your great aunt’s canned pickled beets probably come to mind, but vinegar is so much more than a pickling ingredient. Introducing flavored balsamic vinegars! These vinegars, like red pepper or pear can add a gourmet and delectable twist to your vegetables. Lisa Talamini, a Registered Dietician for Jenny Craig, suggests adding infused vinegars to vegetables and salads, and even meat or fruits for new bursts of flavor. “My two favorite food pairing strategies are to either enhance a flavor or contrast one,” she says.
At just 10 calories per tablespoon, this is one flavor enhancer that counts as a free! There are countless flavors of vinegars, from chocolate to raspberry, meaning there are countless ways to add flavor to every vegetable. Here are just a few ways to upgrade the taste of your veggies with infused vinegars.
Resist the ranch
Try an exotic flavor combination of grapefruit flavored balsamic vinegar on a fresh salad. Drizzle this refreshing vinegar over a salad of sliced tomatoes, hearts of palm, and sliced radishes.
For another twist, make your own vinaigrette by combining 1 tablespoon of raspberry-flavored vinegar and 1 teaspoon of heart-healthy olive oil with a touch of dijon mustard and drizzling on an antioxidant-rich spinach and strawberry salad.
Caramelize your veggies
Rather than just tossing a mix of vegetables in only olive oil and then roasting in the oven, try adding a flavored vinegar also. Red pepper balsamic vinegar adds a summery vibe to roasted vegetables. Just toss washed and cut squash, broccoli and cauliflower florets, red onion, and carrots in a mixture of flavored vinegar and fat free cooking spray and spread evenly on a pan. If you have extra time, you can put the veggies and vinegar/cooking spray combination in a zippered bag to marinate in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook, bringing out even more flavor. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees, or on the barbeque in a grilling pan, if weather permits, until the vegetables are tender and caramelized.
Drizzle on steamed vegetables
Steamed or microwaved veggies don’t have to be bland. Make a balsamic vinegar reduction sauce to drizzle on top of steamed asparagus, broccoli, or green beans. To reduce the volume of vinegar into a sauce, cook the vinegar in a sauce pan on low heat until desired thickness. Various flavors to try include fig, raspberry, or mango!
Not just for veggies
Vinegar can also be added to unexpected food, like fruit, meat, and even pancakes! Talamini recommends trying violet balsamic vinegar on top of our Classic Waffles. Reduce the vinegar down by cooking it on low heat, creating a vibrant, floral “syrup” to top Jenny Craig breakfast menu items, such as Blueberry Pancakes or Classic Waffles.
If you’re making a meal on your own or serving guests, she also suggests vinegar is a great addition to many cuts of meat. Peach balsamic vinegar is the perfect glaze for a roast tenderloin, or to balance the smoky flavor of salmon grilled on a plank, baste it with a pomegranate balsamic.
Additionally, you can get your get your chocolate fix by drizzling chocolate balsamic over fresh strawberries and serving with plain nonfat yogurt.