Last summer my friend Ann brought a plate of grilled vegetables to a potluck party, along with a squeeze bottle of balsamic reduction sauce. It was brilliant and heavenly, but she said she has to buy the sauce online, and I think it was pretty expensive.
Balsamic reduction sauce is simply balsamic vinegar boiled down until it's thick and syrupy. Really, it's a snap to make at home as long as you have a pot and a stovetop.
A few important things of note in making a balsamic reduction sauce. First, this is not the time to use your fancy aged vinegar, it would be a waste. It's OK and encouraged to use your cheap stuff (I think my large jug from Trader Joe's was about $4), because in reducing you get all the sugars to concentrate and make a great sauce.
And second, make sure you open your doors and windows while boiling the vinegar and DO NOT breathe in the fumes. I busied myself with the grill outside while my vinegar was boiling because every time I stepped in the house, my eyes began to water. After an hour of open windows, though, the house was aired out and habitable again.
It's worth the temporary inconvenience, because you can keep the sauce for last minute drizzling on salads, vegetables, meat/beans, eggs, or with bread. It provides a great depth of flavor and sweetness to whatever you are cooking.
Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Reduction
2 cups cheap balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar (optional - I didn't use)
Your favorite variety of cleaned, cut vegetables and/or meat. I used bell pepper, red onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and extra firm tofu.
Brown rice or quinoa, cooked in vegetable stock
In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar (and sugar, if using) to a boil. Reduce heat slightly (do not cover, you want the water to cook off and evaporate) and continue to boil gently for 30-45 minutes or until the vinegar coats the back of a spoon. I ended up with about 3/4 cup reduced vinegar.
Cook your rice or quinoa in vegetable stock and keep warm until ready to eat.
Heat your grill or oven. Coat veggies and meat/tofu with oil, salt, and pepper. Grill or roast until slightly charred.
Serve quinoa/rice, topped with grilled/roasted veggies, then drizzled with balsamic reduction.
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