Sure, you can bring smoke to a summer salad by throwing a couple peaches, pineapple slices or romaine hearts on the grill, but what about those of us without grill access? We spend the summers roaming the earth, searching for even a hint of smoke to add to our salads. Turns out, there’s a simple way to add it, and it’s been staring at us from the liquor cabinet. Make a smoky vinaigrette that complements every salad with a touch of mezcal.
I am partial to fruity salads in the summer (all fruit, or fruit studded—they’re all welcome on my plate), but I actually don’t like mezcal, you see. I find the smoke flavor to be overwhelming in most cocktails, so I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d like it with food. When I saw a menu featuring peach and herb salad dressed with a tamarind mezcal vinaigrette, let’s just say I was doubtful. I’m happy to report that the mezcal vinaigrette didn’t drown out or clash with any of the other ingredients; in fact, the dressing highlighted the peach flavor tremendously with a trailing sweet smokiness in the background.
Elevate your homemade salad dressings:
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Although some mezcals can be smoke-forward, the powerful flavor profile is gently muted by fruit flavors and juices. To make your own smoky mezcal vinaigrette, start with your favorite vinaigrette recipe. If you don’t have one, this template can help. Add a silver mezcal; the amount will be one third of your oil measurement. For example, if your vinaigrette is two tablespoons of olive oil, which breaks down into six teaspoons (3 teaspoons per tablespoon), add two teaspoons of mezcal.
I prefer the flavor of Mezcal Unión Uno but you can substitute any mezcal for the following recipe. Add all of the ingredients to a small jar, and give it a heck of a shake. Drizzle over any salad, gently toss, and enjoy. Since it leans sweet with the pineapple juice and honey, I’ve been enjoying it over tangy, sweet summer fruit, but you can always cut out the honey and add more acid if you’d like a more zippy dressing.
Pineapple Mezcal Salad Dressing
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1 ½ tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons mezcal
- 2 teaspoons honey (or 1 teaspoon agave)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Add all of the ingredients to a small jar and shake. Store leftovers in the fridge, and shake again before using.