If the only time you think about bringing that jar of balsamic vinegar out of the closet is when it’s time to prepare a salad, you’re losing out on a lot of delicious flavor. One of everyone’s favorite hidden ingredients, this sweet and tangy vinegar can be used in a variety of ways to brighten up your ordinary cooking. Here are some of our favorite balsamic vinegar recipes and ways to use it.


Balsamic vinegar and luscious summer tomatoes have long been recognized to have a romantic relationship. To make the transition from that basic summer salad to soups and sauces that use tomatoes isn’t too difficult. To bring the tastes of these foods together, add a splash of balsamic vinegar towards the conclusion of the cooking process.


If you’re making a braised dish, a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking will give it a brighter finish, but incorporating a small amount into the liquid will give it a deep, rich, slightly sweet flavor, such as in this recipe for braised French Onion Chicken or this recipe for braised spring radishes, which both use balsamic vinegar. Consider it similar to wine, and combine it with the broth or other liquid needed to make the soup.


Reduced to a Syrup: Drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, reduced balsamic syrup is a mouthwatering combination. This is especially true if strawberries are in the mix. If you have a really nice aged balsamic, it is not always essential to reduce its quantity. However, if you’re dealing with a simple balsamic, just heat a cup or two in a small pot with a little sugar until it’s warm. A stick of cinnamon is also a great addition. Allow it to decrease until it reaches a syrupy consistency, then refrigerate before using.


Its best to use Balsamic vinegar dressing for marinating meat and tofu. Combine it with some sliced shallots and a dab of mustard when marinating meat and tofu. However, you can also use it to cook tofu and huge portabella mushrooms, which are both delicious with steak or other red meats.


Vinegar-based shrubs are definitely enjoying a moment in the spotlight in the world of soda and cocktails. Balsamic vinegar, with its sweet nature, has a very similar flavor profile to honey. To make a really grown-up fizzy drink, dilute balsamic vinegar in soda water. Try this recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Soda for inspiration. Combine balsamic vinegar with liquors such as bourbon and rye to make drinks like this Fig Old-Fashioned.


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