Vanilla is one of the most universally loved flavors and aromas. Considered aphrodisiacal, vanilla – in any form – is a go-to on Valentines Day and other romantic get-togethers. But vanilla is really quite ubiquitous around the clock. Its smooth intoxicating nuances are so prized, vanilla is used in many desserts and beverages as well as to scent candles and hair and skincare products. Moreover, vanilla can transform savory dishes into something extra special by accentuating some flavors and balancing others. Here are two savory vanilla-kissed recipes, ideal for a romantic dinner, plus one sweet vanilla sauce that will make dinner or dessert a succulent affair.
Celebrating their centennial anniversary, the vanilla specialists at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas are sharing their most delicious vanilla recipes to show you the culinary versatility of vanilla — in bean, paste, extract and powder forms. The Nielsen-Massey Vanillas cookbook A Century of Flavor is a collection of family recipes and recipes from professional chefs, ranging from Vanilla Lobster Supreme with Pasta and Vanilla Sweet Potatoes to Vanilla Apple Pudding, CrÃ¨me Brulee and Vanilla Pastry Cream. No matter the meal or occasion, A Century of Flavor has the recipe — and many interesting vanilla nuggets — the history of vanilla, types of vanilla and more — that you can chew on during dinner. The following recipes are courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.
Fresh Basil Tomato Soup with Vanilla
Serves 4 Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried organic Italian seasoning
2 cups or more organic chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Directions:
1. Saute onion and carrots in butter in a large saucepan until onion is translucent. Stir in flour and Italian seasoning until heated. 2. Add 2 cups chicken stock gradually, stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes, vanilla, basil, salt and white pepper. 3. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional stock if desired and cook until heated through. 4.Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan.
Salmon with Vanilla Balsamic Marinade
Serves 8 Vanilla bean paste is a secret way to add an intense vanilla flavor without thinning out batters or sauces, as can happen with extra vanilla extract. Heavily speckled with real vanilla seeds, vanilla bean paste also gives your dish the appearance of being made with real vanilla beans. Marinade:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1-1/2 teaspoons dried organic parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons dried organic basil
1/2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste Salmon:
8 (4- to 6-ounce) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper Directions:
1. Combine marinade ingredients in blender or food processor and puree. Pour into two containers and set one container aside. 2. For the salmon, preheat grill. Brush each fillet with oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the tops of the fillets with the marinade from one container, discarding remaining marinade. 3. Place fillets marinade-side down on a grill rack over direct heat. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes or until dark grill marks appear and marinade begins to caramelize. 4. Turn the fillets and grill fro 3 to 4 minutes longer. Serve with reserved marinade from second container.
Caramelized Pineapple Sauce
Makes 8 to 10 (3-tablespoon) servings If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, you can use 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract. Ingredients:
1 small pineapple, peeled, eyes and core removed, diced small
1/4 cup clarified butter
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste Directions:
Combine ingredients in a large saute pan. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until pineapple is tender and the brown sugar is caramelized. Serve warm over ice cream or pound cake. Note: To make clarified butter, melt unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat. Skim white milk solids off top. The butter remaining is clarified butter, which has a higher smoke point, making it less likely to burn. Ghee, available in Middle Eastern markets and the ethnic sections in grocery stores, is another form of clarified butter.