Made From Scratch: Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

While I might not be too stoked about our recent snowfall and the fact that our temperatures are still bouncing around the below-freezing mark, one benefit of this weather is that it is prime conditions for sugaring season. Up here in the Northwoods, you'll spy metal pails, plastic buckets, blue bags, and clear bags hanging from sugar maple trees, all collecting sap to be evaporated down into maple syrup.

It typically takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup -- making the final product a bit of a labor of love. We have several sugar maple trees on our property and planned to tap them this spring, but unfortunately we neglected to mark the trees before all the leaves fell off in the autumn. So, next year! Luckily, Dustin has a friend that taps a huge sugarbush (sugar maple grove) near town, so through the time he puts in helping to collect sap, he "earns" several jugs of finished syrup that last us the year.

While I primarily use our maple syrup for pancakes, it also makes a great alternative sweetener. And, with a few other ingredients, you can use it to make a delicious salad dressing or glaze. I recently used this maple-Dijon vinaigrette as both a marinade for salmon roasted in the oven and as a dressing for a salad of spring greens. The maple syrup adds a complex smoky sweetness to the vinaigrette which balances the robust bite of the mustard and vinegar.

What is your favorite way to use maple syrup?

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette (printer-friendly version)
makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. In a small jar with a tight lid, add together the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, pepper, and salt. Place the lid on the jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternately, place all the ingredients in a shallow bowl and whisk to combine.
2. The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.