Have you ever eaten at Pizzicato? The local chain’s pies have been the source of intense garlic breath for many a hungry eater, often thanks to their addictive Puttanesca pizza that features copious amounts of garlic, artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives.
Having worked next door to several Pizzicato locations for several years, I’ve tried almost all of their pizzas. However, what I really love is the Spinaci salad, which comes with pine nuts, too many red onions, grape tomatoes and absurdly delicious balsamic dressing.
There was a time when either my husband or I would stop off at the Pizzicato on our way home and pick up a Spinaci salad with extra balsamic dressing, for which we usually paid a whopping $.25 cents for about four more ounces of goodness. It always seemed like a bargain to me.
During a portion of this obsession, I was actually employed by the owners of Pizzicato as the front of house manager at Lovejoy Bakers. Unfortunately, (and fortunately) the job came to an end — and I had mixed feelings about the whole deal as I truly poured my heart and soul into that bakery and felt kicked to the curb, so, we stopped patronizing Pizzicato.
The cravings for that dressing never subsided and didn’t care that I didn’t want to step foot inside a Pizzicato. Thus, I had to reverse engineer the balsamic dressing recipe from taste to quell the cravings. The result was truly delicious and serves as our “house dressing” to date.
Pizzicato Knock-off Balsamic Dressing Recipe
Yield: 32 ounces
- 6 ounces balsamic vinegar
- 5/8 cup cane sugar (10 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons mustard, either stoneground, deli, dijon or brown
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 ounce water
- 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
- A bit of black pepper
- Light or regular olive oil to make 32 ounces (not EVOO)
- Add the balsamic, sugar, mustard, salt, basil, parsley, water and garlic to a blender
- Blend until you liquefy the garlic.
- Taste and adjust the salt, if needed.
- Add the olive oil directly to the blender, up to the 32-ounce mark
- Blend again, until completely emulsified.
- Pour the dressing into a large bottle and drizzle over salads, use it as a chicken marinade or dip fresh vegetables in it.
If desired, you can sub an ounce or two of olive oil with premium EVOO. For a great source, shop the bulk section at your nearest Winco, where you’ll find tasty California EVOO on tap for about $7 a bottle. (A while back I compared the Oilerie’s classic EVOO with the bulk California EVOO sold at Winco and found the Winco EVOO to be fresher, brighter and tastier than the EVOO from the Oilerie — and a fraction of the price.)