If you’ve visited us this month at an indoor farmers’ market or holiday show around Iowa, then you probably know about our brand new infused vinegar featuring jalapenos grown in our garden. And if you’ve tasted said jalapeno vinegar, then you probably know it’s one amazing infusion! I infused our peppers into a sweet white balsamic, which means this vinegar rocks both the sweet and spicy flavors. Also, because capsaicin (the molecule that makes jalapeno peppers hot) is an oil, and oil and vinegar don’t really mix, I can infuse a lot of pepper flavor into the vinegar without having to worry about overdoing it on the heat (an impossibility for some people, I know, but a reality for low-heat-tolerant people like me).
The Pickle Creek Jalapeno Infused Vinegar is quickly becoming the new vinegar favorite among our visitors at markets and shows. But although it’s a hit among people who try it, most tasters aren’t quite sure how to use a jalapeno vinegar in the kitchen. This is a great question for me, because I happen to have the perfect answer: You gotta try it in a salad dressing!
I spent half a year perfecting the recipe for our jalapeno vinegar, and during all that time, from the first test batch on, I’ve been snitching little bits of the vinegar to make a zesty dressing for an Italian-style salad. I substituted the jalapeno vinegar into my favorite Italian dressing recipe one night when I happened to be out of fresh lemon juice, and I’ve been substituting it ever since.
Being infusers of olive oils and vinegars, Tim and I tend to eat a lot of Italian-themed dishes. This dressing makes the perfect Italian dinner accompaniment, which means I’ve had lots of opportunity to play around with this dressing recipe. The result is a dressing that is super easy to make and is super easy to vary. Be sure to check out the optional additions and creamy variation. Yum!
Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 cup infused olive oil—I like to use Lemon Basil & Garlic infused olive oil, but any olive oil infused with garlic will do!
1/4 cup jalapeno-infused vinegar
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced (if you like your dressing extra garlicky)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or basil (if you like the look and taste of fresh herbs on your salad)
To make a creamy Zesty Italian dressing, simply stir in 1/4 cup mayonnaise.
Place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a fork. Alternatively, place ingredients in a small jar (like a jelly jar), screw the lid on tight, and shake vigorously to mix. Drizzle over romaine lettuce tossed with freshly sliced tomatoes, kalamata or green olives, slivered shallots or red onions, and pepperoncini. Top with Italian herb bread crumbs if desired.