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July 9, 2009

Sherry vinegar (Recipe: bread salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette)

Roastedtomatopanzanella1

Ten things I know about sherry vinegar (you'll be glad to know them, too):

Sherryvinegar2

  1. In the beginning, nobody set out to make sherry vinegar. It was a mistake, the result of poor wine making or sherry barrels that had accumulated too much acidity. Embarrassed wine makers, thinking these acidic vinegars a failure, would give the vinegar only to family and friends.
  2. Sherry vinegar comes from the "sherry triangle" in southern Spain, in the region of Cádiz between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria.
  3. All sherry vinegar starts with sherry, most of which is pressed from Palomino grapes. Some also is made from Pedro Ximenez grapes, or sweetened with PX wine, and the bottles are labeled PX; this vinegar is sweeter, more like balsamic.
  4. The solera system, by which sherry vinegar is produced, allows the vinegar to achieve great complexity, as newer vinegar is constantly blended with the older vintages at the bottom of the solera. The end product tastes of the oak casks, but also of caramel, toasted almonds, coffee and raisins -- which, if you were pulling those ingredients out of the pantry, sounds like the beginnings of some kind of wonderful dessert.
  5. In 2000, sherry vinegar received a Denomination of Origin (D.O) from the European Union. The designation guarantees that the sherry vinegar you buy will be produced in the "sherry triangle", that it will be aged for at least six months, and will contain at least seven percent acidity.
  6. Six-month vinegar is called Vinagre de Jerez; two-year aged is labeled Vinagre de Jerez Reserva. Vinagre de Jerez Gran Reserva has aged for more than ten years, and up to thirty years or more. As you can imagine, the longer the vinegar has aged in the cask, the higher the price. Use the Reserva to finish dishes like soups and sauces, and in salad dressing. For cooking, stick with the six-month (and less expensive) vinegar.
  7. In the heat of the summer, do as the Jerezanos do: add a drop of sherry vinegar to ice water to quench your thirst.
  8. Substitute balsamic, rice vinegar, or red wine vinegar, plus an optional a pinch of sugar.
  9. This vinegar isn't just for salads of greens or beets or potato. Try hazelnut cookie sherry vinegar swirl ice cream, garlic and almond soup, risotto cakes with sherry gastrique, vegetarian green chile, or grilled tri-tip steak with bell pepper salsa.
  10. Orson Welles called sherry vinegar "the best in the world". Would he lie?

Roastedtomatopanzanella2

Bread salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette

A riff on the traditional panzanella, a dish invented to use up old bread, this main-course salad takes advantage of the slow-roasted tomatoes I make each summer and store in the freezer. You can substitute oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. Serves 4.

Ingredients

1/2 loaf ciabatta or other good bread (not too dense), left out overnight to get a bit stale
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 whole (or 4 halves) slow-roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar or sugar substitute, to taste
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 large ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
6-8 olives, canned black or Kalamata, halved
6-8 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Cut the bread into large (2 inch) cubes and place in a mixing bowl. Soak the onion in a bowl of ice water while you complete the salad.

In a blender, process the slow-roasted tomatoes until they are well chopped. Add vinegar, agave, salt, pepper and 1/3 cup oil, and blend until the dressing is smooth, adding additional oil if necessary to achieve a pourable consistency.

Add tomatoes and olives to the bread cubes, and pour the dressing on top (depending on the actual amount of bread, you might have extra dressing). Stir gently, making sure that the dressing coats all of the bread and begins to be absorbed. Drain the onions and add those to the bread. Add basil, and continue stirring. At the last minute, incorporate the feta.

Serve immediately or pack for a picnic; this salad will improve if it sits for a couple of hours.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Baked cherry tomatoes
Caesar salad with shrimp
Goat cheese and basil bruschetta
Fennel, pear and olive salad
Panzanella
Gazpacho

Comments

i bought a large bottel of sherry vinegar this week (and a wild garlic vinegar) - i usually go for my red wine vinegar but this time thought to try something different. i love it as it is more intense a bit dryer. I loved reading the extras about this. Great and easy summer salad!

This recipe has my mouth watering. I discovered sherry vinegar a couple of years ago when it was listed in a recipe, and now it's finally much easer to find than back then. I just used it as part of a soy vinaigrette for a more mellow flavor.

I'm going to try a bottle of sherry vinegar after reading this. The tomatoes in our garden are nearly ripe...yum!

I wish I still had some of those slow-roasted tomatoes but we eat them up almost as soon as they come out of the oven. That was one of the best ideas you ever had!

I don't know about Orson Welles, but I must admit that the mention of coffee and raisin flavors makes me a little leery of trying sherry vinegar.

I didn't realize that sherry vinegar had it's own Denomination of Origin. Thanks for all the facts on this yummy vinegar!

Many many thanks for the sherry info which until now I didnt know about. By default I've been using the reserva because it's the only one my market sells. Once I started using sherry which I did after reading a bitten blog post, I cannot use any other vinegar....except malt for chips. :)

Again, thanks for all the backround info...you rock!

Now I have to go looking for the Reserva. I have a vinegarette I want to try it in.

Stunning photo and a very informative post!

Sherry vinegar is the one that I use most - I have a less spendy bottling which I use for quick pickles and to add to cooked dishes, and a nicer version for salads and straight drizzling.

And I agree, these photos are just lovely. Here's to finally seeing some sun in RI!

Meeta, wild garlic vinegar sounds intriguing.

TW, I'm finding sherry vinegar more available, too, though the Italian markets here in RI are still partial to red wine vinegar.

Amy, I'm completely jealous. My garden tomatoes are still a figment of the imagination, thanks to all of the rain, and lack of sunshine, we've been having in RI.

Mae, my supply of slow-roasted tomatoes from last summer is nearly gone. I cooked at least 10 pounds last year, and it seemed like so much. Maybe this year, I'll add a pound or two.

Sandra, the flavor is rich and complex, and I'm sure you'd like it.

Natashya, I was surprised to learn that the D.O. was relatively recent.

Milton, thanks. I think my readers rock, too.

Janet, around here it's easier to find the Reserva, even though it's a bit more expensive.

Cookin' Canuck, thank you.

Jennifer, same here -- I have more than one of almost every aged vinegar, some for cooking, others for drizzling. (and I'll second that motion about the sun -- wouldn't it be nice?)

Yum. I love salad like this. Gotta make it :)

I made a very similar vinagrette last weekend, haven't had a chance to write it up yet.

Bread salad is always the ultimate treat. This vinaigrette sounds wonderful!

Lovely post, Lydia. I've used sherry vinegar for years but never knew this much about it. And now, of course, it's time for some of that salad......

I love sherry vinegar... right up there with balsamic...
Of course, I also love sherry....

I want some sherry vinegar. I keep forgetting to look for it, and then I read about it on another blog and start wanting it again!

NO... Mr. Wells would not lie. Nope.

Anh, I think you will love this. It's a real classic.

Kevin, I'll be watching for your recipe!

Noble Pig, when your vineyard is producing, will you be making verjus too? That would be great in this dressing.

Toni, sherry vinegar is always in my pantry, but I'm somewhat new to the party. You probably discovered it years before I did.

Katie, and the two vinegars together make a really interesting component in vinaigrettes.

Kalyn, if you can't find sherry vinegar locally, you can buy online from La Tienda or The Spanish Table.

EB, that's what I thought, too.

Gorgeous bread salad! I love the color clarity in your photo. I also really enjoyed reading your info on sherry vinegar. It's so delicious, but that's about all I knew.

This panzanella looks very good! :)

we made this last night instead of a regular salad. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was ^the^ perfect side dish for grilled steak

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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