Saturday, January 05, 2008

Everything Old is New Again - with Verjus

Somehow in the confusion of the family gathering the day after Christmas, a gift was left under the tree, with no tag, and never opened that day. I found it a few days later and was thrilled to find, after opening it, that we were now in possession of a lovely bottle of Verjus. Thank you whomever gave us this lovely condiment!

Sweetie wasn't as thrilled initially...wondering what the heck verjus was, mostly. A quick spin on Google gave us the information needed, plus some really great recipes using verjus. So here is why something old is new again:

Verjus, literally green juice, has been made since Medieval times, perhaps even earlier. One source of the grapes for this vinegar was the green, unripe grapes that were culled from the vines of wine grapes to allow for better ripening of those grapes left on the vine. Since good fruit was not to be wasted, a acidulated condiment was made called verjus. It adds fruity flavor and a nice sourness to sauces. It has been popular for centuries in classic French cooking, but only recently has been commercially available in the U.S. from what I can tell. Now it is seen as a very exciting new ingredient, especially valuable since it combines well with wine and doesn't clash, something that regular vinegars have trouble doing.

Our slender, elegant bottle comes from Terra Sonoma, a local company, located in Geyserville. Their website is also where I found the recipe for the salad. I almost made it as wirtten, although I couldn't find my dried apricots, so I substituted dried cherries. The aroma of the verjus is fruity, almost pear like, and mild. Combined with the walnut oil it was the perfect salad for winter. A nice addition would have been the thinly sliced ripe pear, as the recipe suggests, or tart apple, but I was all out. Next time I'll make sure to add one or the other.

Apricot & Walnut Fresh Green Salad with VerJus Vinaigrette

Ingredients
Bowl of mixed greens
1/2 cup of Dried Apricot
1/2 cup Walnuts (fresh & cracked) (toasted is nice, too)
1/4 Nashi Pear (or what you have locally)

Vinaigrette
3/4 cup Terra Sonoma VerJus
1/4 cup Walnut Oil

Chop the dried apricots into thin slices. Coarsely chop the walnuts. Remove the skin from the Nashi pears and slice into thin pieces. Blend the fresh greens, apricots, walnuts, and pears in a bowl. Add the dressing just before serving. Toss to coat.

Serves 4.

11 comments :

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You almost hope the mystery of a gift like this doesn't reveal it's self. What a wonderful late gift.
The salad sounds heavenly. So wish you'd had a pear. I'll look for some of this verjus.

Peabody said...

Hope you find out who gave it to you. I must admit I have never heard of that.

Mindy said...

I love random gifts!

What a delicious mystery....

Deborah said...

How fun to find a hidden gift! This salad sounds delicious - I've never heard of verjus before, but I'll have to look for it.

The Passionate Palate said...

I always wondered what verjus was and now I know, thanks to you!

Maryann said...

Thanks for the intro to VerJu. I had never heard of it either :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, yes, another fruit-in-the-salad fan, I see. I love this recipe. Intriguing story too....

breadchick said...

I love mystery gifts! And this one is absolutely perfect. I have never heard of this before but after reading your post, I want to go out and find some.

Elle said...

Tanna, The pear would have really finished it off. As far as the verjus, there is a link on the post. I think they take e-mail orders.

Peabody, Hope so, too. Would like to thank them properly.

Mindy, Fun mystery.

Deborah, The Terra Sonoma web site has other great recipes, too.

Passionate, Love to learn about new ingredient...you, too?

Maryann, Welcome!

Susan, Yes, love the fruit and sald thing, especially with nuts added.

kellypea said...

What a lovely surprise! I love walnuts -- especially in salad. But I have to sneak them into things because a few family members don't care for them. This recipe sounds great. Thanks for the info. I'd never heard of verjus before!

Tartelette said...

Welcome to the realm and possibilities of verjus! What a nice surprise from whomever! Enjoy!