As the days lengthen and the promise of warmer weather beckons, our palates begin to favor lighter, simpler fare. Imagine tender asparagus, dressed with a mouth-watering, shallot-tomato vinaigrette; a melt-in-your-mouth roasted ham with an orange-rosemary glaze; and a wild rice salad jazzed up with dried fruit and the crunch of toasted almonds.
Whether you're a cooking veteran or novice, anyone can be a natural in the kitchen with an easy, yet sophisticated menu that uses all-natural ingredients. If you're wondering about the secret to the dishes featured here, look no farther than your own pantry.
Vinegar. That's right, the old standby deserves its own spot, front and center, in your lineup. In fact, since its discovery 10,000 years ago, vinegar has been valued as a key ingredient for cooking, canning, cleaning, dressing and dyeing delicious foods.
While the recipes here use three different kinds of vinegar--white, apple cider and red wine--you've no doubt heard of more: balsamic, rice, white wine and malt vinegar just to name a few. Most recipes will specify which vinegar to use, but occasionally it's left to you to decide. If you prefer a subtle fruit flavor, you may substitute apple cider vinegar. Just remember, it can darken light fruits and vegetables. As for the flavored vinegars, they are good for adding subtlety, variety, aroma and intrigue--without adding calories. No matter which vinegar you choose, be sure you select a brand that is all-natural, such as Heinz. This will also allow you to score points for both health and taste.
In the menu showcased here, vinegar plays an important role by adding complexity to dressings and sauces, as well as brightening and balancing the flavors in each recipe. By allowing vinegar to play a starring role in your holiday feast, you're well on your way to an easy and delicious meal. With a traditional ham featuring an innovative glaze, plus two tasty sides, simply ask your guests to bring a couple of additional side dishes and a dessert, and your meal will be complete. So much for stress.
Orange-Glazed Ham with Rosemary
1 (6- to 8-pound) ham
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place ham, fat side up, in roasting pan. Pour 1 inch of water into pan. Roast ham 1 1/2 hours. For glaze, in a saucepan over medium heat, boil sugar and vinegar together 5 minutes. Add orange juice and simmer mixture until reduced by a third. (It should appear slightly syrupy.) Remove mixture from heat; add rosemary, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, then add butter and stir gently until melted and well-incorporated. Remove roasting pan from oven every 10 minutes or so, and brush generous amount of glaze all over ham, until crust is golden-brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.
Asparagus with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette
48 medium asparagus
Steam asparagus until crisp-tender. Sauté shallots in oil over medium heat until wilted, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to simmer. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, and then add vinegar, garlic, wine, salt and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes to reduce and thicken vinaigrette. Serve over warm or room-temperature asparagus spears. Serves 8 to 10.
Wild Rice, Apricot, Dried Cherry and Almond Salad
10 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, but if not available, make from Wyler's Instant Bouillon)
Bring chicken stock to boil in large, heavy saucepan. Mix in wild rice. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered until rice is tender, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes. Drain rice well and transfer to bowl. Mix in apricots, cherries, onions and parsley. Whisk together vinegar, mustard and brown sugar in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Toss rice with enough dressing to coat well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to use. Check salad for dressing and seasoning before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
Brighten up your meal with light and simple recipes that showcase the versatility of vinegar.
This light and delicious feast stars a roast ham with a citrus-rosemary glaze, featuring Heinz White Vinegar. Heinz Red Wine Vinegar lends an extra layer of flavor to asparagus with a shallot-tomato vinaigrette, while Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar dresses up a wild rice salad with dried apricots, cherries and almonds.
You can create a virtual rainbow of dyes from ingredients in your own kitchen. Beets, blueberries, onion skins, coffee, turmeric, cranberry juice, fresh spinach ... these are just a few simple and all-natural alternatives to pre-made egg-dyeing tablets.
To make a natural dye, add 4 cups of chopped fruit or vegetables (or 1 tablespoon spice) to 4 cups of water. Add 2 tablespoons of Heinz White Vinegar, bring to a boil and simmer 15 to 30 minutes. Strain the dye and cool slightly. Use this dye on previously cooked, refrigerated eggs. Dip eggs for 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired color is reached.
Beautiful egg dyes can be made with all-natural ingredients. These stunning eggs were created using a mixture of water, all-natural vinegar and beets.