Expat Cravings: Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing

Posted on June 24, 2012

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Strawberry season has coincided with an incredibly rare event in our house:   Stephen wanted to cook dinner!  I just said yes; I didn’t ask what he wanted to cook.  I assumed his classic omelet or spaghetti since that’s the only thing he can make (with a lot of help).  However, he surprised me when he told me that he wanted to make the tangerine and walnut salad with oregano chicken that I always used to make back in America.  Cheap, easy, and delicious.  The only problem is that Turkey only has about 4 different kinds of ‘salad dressing’ here and none of them are good, and none of them involve raspberry vinaigrette . . . or any kind of fruity vinaigrette.  For a moment, I lost hope, it could never be the real thing. But then I saw the fresh strawberries, and my mind went to the balsamic vinegar at home, and I thought to myself, ‘It can’t turn out that bad!’  So we decided that Stephen would make the salad; I would experiment with the dressing.

Back at the farm, I started slicing up a few strawberries. With a spoon, I mashed them through this metal strainer that my grandma sent me a couple Christmases ago.  (Thank you grandma, I use it for lots of recipes now.)  It’s been my poor man’s emulcifier/blender/food processor.  And it worked great to market he base of the dressing.  It’s amazing how much juice you can get from a strawberry.  You’d think it would be mostly pulp, but it’s not. I decided to put some Brown sugar in the dressing for no particular reason.  I really let the spirit guide me sometimes.

I only had cubed brown sugar, so I just mashed them through the strainer at the same time as the strawberries.  I use 5 cubes which probably comes to half a tablespoon.  Then I added the balsamic vinegar which you can find at just about any shop with an international section.  After adding the balsamic, it still didn’t have the right flavour, so I decided to add some other kind of vinegar.  I had rice vinegar, grape vinegar, and apple vinegar.  I tried each one to see which would work best, and that was not a pleasant experience.  The apple vinegar was definitely the winner.  Then I decided to use lemon juice as well.  At this point, I was really happy with the mixture, but it was a little too concentrated.  So I got the olive oil and added it as well, and instantly it took on the same appearance as the fruity vinaigrettes back in the homeland.  Finished product.

So for two people and two large salads, I suggest these measurements, but I think as long as this dressing has the correct balance of sweet and sour, you can play with these measurements and the ingredients too.

7 or 8 sliced strawberries

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp apple vinegar (elma sirke)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

For the salad, you just need greens, feta cheese if you are back home or Erzincan tulum peynir if you are here in Türkiye, walnuts, tangerine slices, and chicken pieces cooked on high with butter, sea salt and generously covered in oregano.  I’m gonna use dried apricot slices today to see if I like that since I couldn’t find tangerines.

As an American, I find it hard to accept not being able to get products at any time of the year.  I’m hoping to focus more on using seasonal ingredients and adapting to seasonal cooking.  It will give me lots of things to look forward to as the seasons change.

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