Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Peperoncini Juice Vinaigrette

When I'm at home working, chances are I'll make a green salad for lunch with the requisite greens and diced tomato. The rest may vary, but usually it will include a couple of sliced green onions, olives, toasted walnuts, and garbanzo beans. Perhaps kalamata olives and artichoke hearts. Maybe some crumbled feta. Oh, and peperoncini.

I love peperoncini, but not all brands. Giuliano is my favorite--but for some reason it's become hard to find. The peppers are hot, but not too hot and they have a marvelous vinegary flavor. And the juice! This will sound very strange, but given that I'm not a big drinker of spirits, whenever I see people in movies throwing back a shot of whiskey I imagine the flavor to be that of peperoncini juice. I just love it.

Growing up, I ate a lot of pickled vegetables that my dad made reusing the liquid from a jar of pickles or giardiniera. What a waste to toss that juice when you could slice up a new batch of veggies to marinate in the sour tart liquid.

So, why hadn't I ever done the same with the peperoncini juice? Well, better late than never. Today I whipped up a batch of peperoncini vinaigrette that has that tang and heat I love, along with a garlicky Mediterranean essence. I dressed my green salad with it and marinated chicken in it that I roasted for dinner.

In the spring I'll mix it with mayonnaise to have a dip for steamed artichokes--or perhaps I'll make a batch to baste grilled or roasted vegetables.

The vinaigrette is easy to make. You're basically just substituting most of the usual vinegar with the peperoncini juice--although I add a little white wine vinegar to it to round out the flavors. I have a field of oregano growing in my garden, so I included about a teaspoon of fresh, minced oregano in the dressing. Plus, a minced clove of garlic, red pepper flakes, a little pinch of sea salt, and the best extra virgin olive oil I have. All you need to do is mix together all the ingredients but the oil, then whisk in the oil until the vinaigrette  emulsifies. Taste and adjust the ratio of oil and peperoncini juice so you get your perfect flavor delivered. Too much oil will mask the flavor of the juice. Too much juice may make your lips pucker.

Of course, the latter is not a problem for me.

Peperoncini Juice Vinaigrette
(printable recipe)
Yield: 3/4 cup

1/2 cup peperoncini juice (or your favorite pickle juice)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the oil. Slowly whisk in the oil and keep whisking until the mixture emulsifies. Taste and adjust seasonings.

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