The Latin Lover is not fond of vinaigrettes. He doesn’t care for the sharpness of vinegar. I can’t get enough of that flavor…we’re a mixed marriage. So I came up with this version that works for both of us. It has citrus, honey, and few other little delights to warm his soul. This picture perfectly defines many of the flavors of Cuba and other Latin countries. The only things missing are onions and peppers! These flavors were brought to Spain with the Moors. Oranges, limes and cumin are their flavors and then the Conquistadores brought these flavors to the New World and now they are synonymous with Latin American, in both Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.
Note the difference in the color of the whole cumin seeds. The seeds on the right are plain old seeds out of the bottle, but the seeds on the left, well they’ve been toasted in a dry skillet and they are something else. I then ground them, releasing the toasted oils. Toasting spices imparts a subtle, but smoky warmth to the flavor profile. Toasting works well with whole fennel, caraway, and coriander seeds, as well as whole cumin seeds.
I was making Winter Slaw, or one of the versions I make this time of year, so I decided, let’s see what I can do with these flavors to make something The Latin Lover might enjoy, too. And so, Latin Lover Vinaigrette was born.
Latin Lover Vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin (toasted first, if possible)
- grated rind of 2 limes
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon guajillo chile flakes (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup or sugar
- 1/2-1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a cup measure
- good olive oil added to fill to the 2/3 cup level (about 3 tablespoons)
Combine everything, except the oils, in a large bowl, a jar with a tight-fitting lid OR a blender container. Whisk, shake or whirl until well-blended. Slowly whisk in the oil, until slightly thickened. If using a jar, add the oil and shake like crazy until it is completely combined. If using a blender, with the motor running, slowly add the oil through the opening in the lid. If using the blender, the mixture will probably stay homogenized, otherwise you will have to whisk or recombine. This is great on cabbage salads, pasta salads, drizzled over grilled chicken, shrimp or fish, used as a marinade, or however your little heart desires. Will keep for at least a week in the fridge.
Latin Lover Vinaigrette©Marcia Lahens 2014. All rights reserved.
This is the whisking like mad part of the recipe. You can see it coming together.
Again, feel free to change this up. I add a touch of toasted sesame oil, because I like that toasted flavor, but I just want a hint. I’m also going to be using candied, roasted peanuts in the salad and those flavors will play off of each other, but you can add another flavored oil if you prefer or just omit it completely.
This vinaigrette can be made with lemons and with Meyer lemons it’s truly spectacular. If you want a creamy vinaigrette, add 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (low-fat is fine), Greek-style yogurt or sour cream, but the vinaigrette will not keep as long.
NOTE: This vinaigrette is good with shrimp and chicken salads, drizzled over avocado slices, grilled chicken or fish or slathered on a pulled pork sandwich. Use the vinaigrette as a dipping sauce for cooked shrimp, grilled sweet potato wedges, carrot sticks (it’s a bit drippy, but very tasty!).