Gigi-Pure Mountain Fig Vinaigarette

If you haven’t stopped in to Rhinebeck’s hottest new store, check out Pure Mountain. They sell the most amazing naturally flavored 12-year old balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, made in the traditional style that makes them rich, subtle syrupy and delicious. We’re using them in our cocktails (yes!), sauces, soups and you’ll be seeing this lovely vinaigrette on some of our fall salad specials.

I developed this Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette as part of the tasty and healthy seasonal fall menu for Just Salad. It is light and delicious with a great depth of flavor.

Gigi-Pure Mountain Fig Vinaigrette

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoon Pure Mountain Dark Fig Balsamic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup canola, safflower oil blended oil oil (extra-virgin, while delicious, takes over the subtle fig flavor notes)
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, lemon juice and salt. While whisking, slowly add the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and add black pepper.

Grilling with Black Currant BBQ Sauce

Ahhh, the start of summer; long glorious days at the beach, the pool, the kids driving you nuts…Joking…We all love summer. One of my favorite parts of the season is all the great grilling you can do and all the interesting ingredients you can use! I’ll be sharing some new ideas, delicious recipes and helpful tips throughout the summer that will help you maximize that grilling goodness!

Take black currants for example. Probably not something you would have thought of for the grill! But, they make a great BBQ sauce. Not only are they delicious, but they are one of nature’s most potent anti-oxidants! These little berries contain two times the antioxidant power of blueberries, four times the vitamin C of oranges, and twice the potassium of bananas.

Since the currant bush likes hot, humid summers, and cold winters, it’s perfectly at home in the Hudson Valley. Black and red currants have a tart flavor, but are great in jellies, sauces, and pies. They’re also the main flavor in cassis, the French liqueur.  But I digress…

Black Currant BBQ Sauce

1 pint fresh black currants
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely diced shallots
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon butter
Salt

To prepare the BBQ sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the currants, raisins, ½ cup water, brown sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, shallots, raisins, mustard, and cayenne and stir to combine. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Puree the sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, using a rubber spatula to push as much sauce as possible through the mesh. Season the sauce to taste with salt.

What I especially like about currants is how their slight bitterness and astringency marries perfectly with richer, more flavorful meats like lamb. While we’ve prepared it with lamb for this post, this sauce is also wonderful on grilled, seared, or roasted salmon; the acidity of the currants works well with the fattiness of the fish. It is also good on beef kebobs, prawns, and venison medallions.

If you are too busy to make the BBQ sauce, you can always pop into Gigi Market and pick yourself up a container. Enjoy!

-Laura

To learn more about currants, visit the website of Hudson Valley expert on all things currant, Greg Quinn.

 

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Asparagus Pesto Linguine

Asparagus is one of the other delicious favorites that is in season right now. Along with strawberries, you can head to Greig Farm in Red Hook and pick your own. It doesn’t get fresher than that!

At Gigi Trattoria and Gigi Market we use the fresh herbs, leaves, and vegetables of spring, summer, and fall to make delicious pestos that can be tossed with our hand-made pastas. Fresh asparagus makes a wonderful base for a fresh pesto.

Asparagus Pesto Linguine

Makes 4 servings

1 pound asparagus spears
3 garlic cloves,chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese,plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh falt-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pounds dry linguine or spaghetti

Snap the tough ends off the asparagus. Remove the tips; reserve the tips and stems separately.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Season with salt. Add the asparagus stems and cook until they’re just tender,3 to 5 minutes,depending on thickness. Using tongs,transfer the asparagus to a large bowl,cover with cold water,and then drain. Slice the stems into ½-inch long segments and place in the work bowl of a food processor.

Add the tips to the boiling salted water; when tender,about 2 minutes,fish them out with a strainer or slotted spoon. Place the tips in a small bowl,cover with cold water,and drain. Set aside. Keep the cooking water at a low boil.

Add the garlic,mustard and ¼ cup of the olive oil to the food processor with the asparagus stems. Pulse to combine. Add the Parmesan,parsley,and pine nuts. With the motor running,drizzle the remaining olive oil through the feed tube of the processor. Season with salt and pepper and the lemon juice to perk up flavors. Pulse again to combine. If you want a thinner consistency,a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water can be added later.

Return the cooking water to a full boil and add the linguine. Cook,stirring occasionally,until done,8 to 12 minutes; check the package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water before draining. Add the drained pasta back to the pot and add the pesto and reserved asparagus tips. Cook,stirring,over medium-high heat until hot and well combined,about 1 minute. Add a spoonful of the pasta water,if necessary,to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with grated Parmesan.

Serving suggestions: Enjoy the pasta immediately.

Variations:

  • Brush whole fish,steaks or filets with the pesto as it grills or roasts.
  • Marinate asparagus spears in the pesto before roasting or grilling.

Leftovers: Use pesto for up to 4 days.

Nutrition: A typical serving of asparagus provides more than 50 percent of the Daily Value for folate, a B vitamin that helps in the duplication of healthy cells and protects against heart disease. It’s also a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin A, and phytochemicals.

Economy: $$ Purchased in season, asparagus is tasty and inexpensive.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.