The balsamico is a sort of vinegar, but much, much softer in the taste. Usually, it has a deep red or brownish colour, like wine. The balsamico is stored on small wooden barrels for fermenting. Most (Real, anyway) balsamico comes from Italy, and used in a variety of food. Mostly in salads, but also in desserts. Try a few drops on a steak or in a stew.

Four recipes with balsamico

Standard vinaigrette

2 tablespoons (ts) balsamico
6 ts virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly gound black pepper

Stir salt, pepper and balsamico and the oil. Stir well.
The vinaigrette will last for weeks in a fridge. This vinaigrette can be made with ordinary vinegar too.

Fruit salad

Use two or more fruits like pear, orange, pineapple, apple, plum or whatever.
Peel the fruit and cut it. Mix balsamico with sugar and pour over the fruit. Let the dish rest before serving.

Marinated strawberries

500 gr strawberries
2 tablespoons balsamico
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix the balsamico and sugar. Pour the mix over the strawberries and let rest for 30 minutes in room temperature before serving.

Tomato salad

3 large (and I mean LARGE) tomatos
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped chive or basil
2 tablespoons balsamico
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the onion and chive with balsamico salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and let the mix rest for 15 minutes. Cut the tomato in thin slices and pour the mix over. Serve.

Another recipe using balsamico as a primary seasoning:

Insalata Caprese (Capri salad)

1 large ball Bufala mozzarella (or any other soft mozzarella which is shipped immersed in water)
2 large, ripe tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon fresh, finely chopped basil
Balsamico to taste (usually 1/2 teaspoon per tomato slice)

Cut the tomatoes as if they were going onto a sandwich, in eighth-inch slices. Pass them under cold running water to get rid of some of the seeds. Pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt on each tomato slice.

Carefully slice the mozzarella about half as thick as you sliced the tomatoes. Place one slice of mozzarella atop each tomato slice, and sprinkle a generous pinch of chopped basil on top of the mozzarella. Serve with Balsamico on the side, to be dashed on top of the tomato/mozzarella slices before eating. Serves four as an appetizer; two as a snack.

This is a simple recipe, but absolutely delectable if you happen to like tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. In my experience it's most popular in the north of Italy, but is found in Italian restaurants throughout western Europe. Curiously, comparatively few Italian restaurants in the USA carry it on their menus.

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