A charming thing to know about maple syrup:
According to Native American legend, one morning an Iroquois chief pulled his tomahawk from a tree where he'd thrown it the night before. The weather had turned warm, and from the gash in the tree, sap flowed into a wooden bowl that happened to be sitting on the ground. A woman found the bowl of clear liquid; thinking it was water, she used it to prepare the day's meal. As the bowl cooked all day, the sap thickened and turned to syrup. The chief returned, and the woman served the sweet-flavored meal she had cooked. He loved it (who wouldn't?), and that was how maple syrup became a mainstay of Native American cuisine. How, when and where it paired up with pancakes is something I still need to find out.
Cooking or baking?
Unopened syrup will keep in the pantry for up to one year; opened, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to one year. For longer storage, stick your syrup in the freezer.
Spinach salad with glazed beets and blue cheese
My husband Ted will eat almost anything with maple syrup, but combine that with beets (another of his favorite foods) and there's no stopping him. Three other tasters agreed! I used Melissa's ready-to-eat peeled and steamed baby beets, which the small market in my town now sells (I thank the beet gods for this!). Trader Joe's sells them, too, and if you can find them, you'll save time and red-stained fingers. Serves 2-3; can be doubled.
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cooked baby beets, sliced or roughly chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
4 cups baby spinach or salad greens
2 Tbsp crumbled mild blue cheese, or more to taste, at room temperature
In a small nonstick sauce pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the beets, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the orange juice, vinegar and maple syrup, and stir to coat the beets. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to simmer, and let the beets cook gently, stirring occasionally, until most -- but not all -- of the liquid has reduced. (The liquid will dress the salad greens, so leave a bit in the pan.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange the spinach or greens in a serving bowl, and drizzle the beets and pan liquid over the greens. Top with crumbled blue cheese. Serve at room temperature.
Other recipes that use maple syrup:
Spaghetti squash with maple syrup and shallots, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Maple syrup pie, from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Carrots glazed with maple syrup and lime, from A Veggie Venture
Quinoa salad with pears, baby spinach and chick peas in a maple vinaigrette, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Red peppers with maple syrup and chili, from Just Bento
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