Since summer doesn’t last forever, but the desire for the rich infusion of basil’s flavor seems endless, try this vinaigrette variation for autumn’s root vegetables, or for store-bought vegetables late in winter that aren’t quite at the top of their game. The rich, heady aromatic infusion of basil, combined with the earthiness of pancetta, will make any root or store-bought vegetables sing.
Makes scant ½ cup (enough to lightly — and perfectly — dress about 8 cups of salad greens)
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup coarsely chopped pancetta (or substitute proscuitto)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (from 1 large or 2 medium-sized cloves)
¼ cup white balsamic vinaigrette
¼ cup basil, cut in chiffonade ribbons
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Set a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and allow to melt. Stir in the chopped pancetta and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, until the pancetta is crisped and cooked, and its fat has been rendered. Add the shallots and the garlic and toss to combine. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the white balsamic vinegar. Add the basil, toss and allow to infuse the dressing for about 5 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasonings by adding sea salt or fresh ground pepper to taste. Use immediately to dress roasted root or store-bought vegetables.
Recipe by Donna Marie Zotter