Strawberries and raspberries are fading from the seasonal scene, but blackberries (and blueberries) are still on. Berry lovers know, now is the time to gorge yourself. Northwest berry season is better than any vacation in the summer for me.
I brought home so many Chester berries from Ayers Creek Farm when I visited the Hillsdale farmers market that my freezer is now full. I'm still planning on a U-pick blueberries day later this month. Where will they all go? I'm not worried because we can always find more room for berries to extend the season. We love daily berry smoothies, it's an amazing taste treat when the season ends.
I've made berry crisp, cobbler and sorbet. And fruit salad dressings are amazing, but the idea of a fresh berry vinaigrette has always intrigued me. I imagined the luscious Chester blackberries in a vinaigrette and got busy looking for a recipe. I didn't really find one I liked, most included cheese or cream, so I made my own, based on vinaigrettes I'd made in the past.
Of course you need the essential ingredients for a good salad--greens, seasonal vegetables and maybe a few nuts or berries on top. It tastes best when everything is grown locally. When you look for seasonal specials, think about local farms. How far does your lettuce travel from ground to plate?
|Workers at Willie Greens Organic Farm in Monroe, WA|
|Arugula from my garden|
|Red peppers fresh from the farm|
|Garlic at the market. Get your garlic for winter storage now.|
|My favorite vinegar from the farmers market|
I made my own raspberry vinegar last year, and I'm going to try the same thing with blackberries this year. For this you need 2 cups raspberries (or blackberries) and enough white wine or apple cider vinegar to completely cover the berries--at least 2 cups. Apple cider or white wine fits the bill because the vinegar needs to be at least 5% acidity according to Nigel Slater. Although Nigel uses a stainless steel pan, I used a glass jar. Both are nonreactive. Don't use an aluminium or cast iron pan. Cover and put your container aside for two weeks then strain berries. Store your berry vinegar in a glass jar. I keep mine in the refrigerator just to extend the shelflife which should be about month or so. It goes fast in our house, so I've never kept it very long.
I used frozen, thawed berries for this vinaigrette. And once you put it in the refrigerator it becomes thicker because of the amount of pectin in the berries. Simply stir it and allow it to be at room temperature before serving. Because it contains berries, this vinaigrette will keep for 5 to 7 days.
Chester Blackberry Vinaigrette
(Makes about 1 cup)
1 cup Chester blackberries (or use your favorite variety)
1 tablespoon chopped onion or shallots
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 cup berry or cherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender, except salt and pepper. When blended, add salt and pepper to taste.
This dresssing goes well on a green salad. Add the vegetables you like. The blackberries were an afterthought. Apparently they were too tempting for my Cooking Assistant who loves to try and sample the recipe of the week.
|Didn't see this until after the photo shoot. The blackberries were just too tempting.|