Four Variations on Maple Vinaigrette and A Sugaring Off Vlog

Late March means one thing in Québec: sugaring off season. The chilly nights and warm afternoons cause sap to surge up from the roots of the maple trees and race to fill the branches with life. All across the province, the healthy trees are tapped and a portion of the sap is extracted as it makes its journey upward.

You won’t find me pining for summer’s sandy beaches or pool parties during these early spring months; I relish sugaring off season, as you can probably tell. Due to the enthusiastic response to my recent post, A Sugaring Off Story, I decided to bring my Flip along on another recent outing to the family sugar bush and give you one more glimpse of Eastern Canada’s ‘fifth season’.

The short video follows our family’s most enthusiastic little worker, five-year-old Noah, on his third annual visit to the sugar bush. I couldn’t be happier that he is learning the process of gathering a beloved natural resource; truly this is food culture in the making.

For context and more description of how the process takes place, please read  A Sugaring Off Story. Now hit the jump for the vlog and a handful of salad dressing recipes featuring maple syrup.

Four Variations on Maple Vinaigrette

Pure maple syrup makes its way to our table in far more ways than just a jug for pancakes. We add it to homemade granola, soups, pies and cookies, salmon and pork chop glaze, and even toss it with our greens. Maple salad dressing? Absolutely!

Now I realize that for most of the world, pure maple syrup is a scarce and precious ingredient, which is why I’m not giving you a recipe that calls for three cups of syrup (yes, I’ve got those recipes). Instead, here are a few suggestions that will help stretch the bottle a little further.

Maple Vinaigrette Base Recipe

Start with this simple base recipe and customize it to suit your liking:

  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, or combine in a jar, cover and shake well. Add desired acidic ingredient from the suggestions below (which is needed to balance out the sweet syrup and rich oil), mix well and store for up to two weeks.

Variation 1: Spicy Maple Vinaigrette

A shot of heat from the Sriracha balances out the sweetness of the maple syrup. Add a squeeze of lemon for acidity, and you’ve got a lovely, well-rounded vinaigrette.

  • 1 maple vinaigrette base recipe (above)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or combine in a jar, cover and shake well. Use at once or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Variation 2: Maple Vinaigrette with Cocoa Nibs

Bacon bits are out and bittersweet cocoa nibs are IN. This vinaigrette adds a welcome crunch to any leafy green salad. Try it tossed with baby spinach, sliced strawberries and toasted walnut or pecans.

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, or combine in a jar, cover and shake well. Use at once or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Variation 3: Maple Shallot Vinagrette

This bold vinaigrette packs a punch with its bold sherry vinegar and crunchy French shallots. Drizzle it over grilled portobello mushrooms or a warm steak salad.

  • 1 maple vinaigrette base recipe (above)
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon French shallots, minced

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or combine in a jar, cover and shake well. Use at once or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Variation 4: Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Decidedly the lightweight of the group, this is best tossed with baby greens and a handful of crumbled goat cheese.

  • 1 x maple vinaigrette base recipe (above)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or combine in a jar, cover and shake well. Use at once or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Are you eager for Spring salads?  What is your favorite vinaigrette to shake up?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. oh i wish maple syrup wasn’t so expensive here in South Africa…
    I would love some!!!

    🙂 happy Monday

    Betty Bake x

  2. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    I first had maple vinaigrette on a trip to Stowe, VT, where maple syrup is also plentiful. It pairs so beautifully with goat cheese and pecans in salad, my mouth waters just thinking about it. I have some Grade B that a friend brought me when she came down to visit from VT. I’m going to have to try that spicy recipe, it looks Ah-mazing!

  3. I am so anxious for salads! I love a light lemon vinaigrette. I also love bleu cheese and poppy seed dressings.

    • You and I both love blue cheese, Katie. Is there anything better in the summer than cold, crispy buttercrunch lettuce with blue cheese dressing?

  4. Growing up in New England, maple has always been one of my favorite flavors. If you give me a menu at a restaurant and ANY item has maple in it, I’m very likely to order it. Thanks for sharing these great maple vinaigrette ideas – I will definitely try them!

  5. Mmm! They all sound delicious! I’m completely ready for lettuce, or really and any vegetable that isn’t a winter storage vegetable. I’m over potatoes, carrots and the like.

    P.S. You new picture is lovely Aimee!

  6. That is one handsome little man, and the 4-wheeler with the sled is just fantastic! One of my favorite salads is a maple vinaigrette that I serve over a blue cheese and pecan salad with a maple-marinated steak. Love your variations!

  7. Same with us! I didn’t grow up with this sugaring-off culture, but man it sure has become as much as part of me as ethnic native dishes.

  8. Looks like you have an awesome little worker bee there! Lovely!

  9. bridget {bake at 350} says

    Well, we don’t get scenes like that in Texas and I thoroughly enjoyed watching yours! What a little cutie you’ve got there, Aimee! Looks like such FUN!

  10. I am seriously craving some maple syrup now… Love all of the vinaigrette ideas! Cute video 🙂

  11. I make a maple vinaigrette all winter long. I serve it on salads of every sort, but especially ones composed of leafy greens, candied pecans, fruit, and goat cheese or cheddar. I love these variations. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oh goodness. These all look so tasty. Sweet with some tang!

  13. Love each and every one of these! It looks like you had so much fun!!

  14. That looks like so much fun – love the young boy drinking out of the pail!! I am so ready for spring salads. Your maple based dressings sound delicious!

  15. Looks like such a fun day. The Maple vinaigrette with cocoa nibs sounds awesome! I’ve never had a salad with cocoa nibs in it before.

  16. Aimee this looks like so much fun. I have never gotten that close to my favorite sweet ingredient. Looks like you son had a blast. The dressings sound wonderful 🙂

  17. Mrs. Graham Gardens says

    Shallots, sherry vinegar & maple syrup?? Oh my. That sounds absolutely wonderful. Forget the greens, I may just drink that right out of the bottle. Thanks, Aimee, for a terrific-ly fun set of dressing options!

  18. Elizabeth says

    Beautiful video but more importantly, wonderful memories for Noah — and you. I wish it wasn’t so darned impossible to find dark maple syrup! BTW, are you sure bacon is out……….simply can’t be! But I will try the variations you have so thoughtfully provided.

  19. Fantastic post! I’m going to print out these recipes, and I really appreciate you giving ideas that don’t call for a lot of syrup. Beautiful!

  20. I just had a maple vinaigrette last weekend at a local seafood restaurant. It was incredibly delicious and I immediately wanted to replicate it! Thanks for giving me something to go off of!

  21. That vlog was a great treat 🙂 I haven’t tried maple vinaigrette, but that does sound delish 🙂

  22. What a fun video! These maple vinaigrette variations are fantastic – new flavor combinations to give a standard dish new life.

  23. Amazing! It’s the first time I see maple in a vinaigrette. Well, I’m from Brazil and I didn’t know about maple until 2 1/2 ago so…….I guess I have a lot to learn.
    I just visit a maple festival here in Chicago and started to appreciate even more this amazing ingredient!
    Thanks for this post!

  24. OMG! looks so yummy….! love the variations on your maple salad dressing. I have been using maple syrup in our vinaigrette for years, but to see your beautiful creations makes me want to try them!
    Thanks for sharing…

  25. This looks very yummy indeed!

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