June 3, 2020
Sometimes it’s the finishing touch that makes all the difference to a dish—an extra sprinkle or drizzle can add texture and balance flavours. Sweet, tangy balsamic reduction is shelf-stable and can give any number of dishes a boost, from cheeses to grilled or roasted vegetables, meats and fish, to ice cream and fresh fruit for dessert.
The Western Canadian company Nonna Pia came to be after chef Norm tasted 50 year old balsamic vinegar straight from the barrel in Modena, Italy, over 20 years ago. He returned to Canada and set to work creating his own balsamic glaze with the help of his wife, Natasha, and kids Oliver and Georgia, who were 2 and 4 years old at the time. They named the company after Norm’s mother, Pia (“Nonna Pia” to his children), and now operate from a production facility in Whistler, BC. Later this year, they’ll celebrate a decade in business.
Their most popular product, a basic balsamic glaze, is made with aged balsamic vinegar imported from Modena and slow simmered, creating a thick, velvety smooth and robust drizzle without the use of thickening agents or caramel. And they’ve added other varieties to their lineup—another balsamic glaze is infused with Okanagan BC Cabernet Merlot, making it full-bodied with fruity undertones (try it with cheese!) Their strawberry-fig balsamic glaze, made with mission figs, is divine on green salads, fresh fruit, and grilled salmon. And the garlic-infused glaze makes sense on anything you might pair with both flavours—cheeses, grilled asparagus, a burger or a juicy steak.
Roasted Beet + Feta Salad
Simple salads make the best of summer, and can be easily dressed with olive oil and Nonna Pia’s balsamic glazes. Roast beets by trimming the stem ends and wrapping in foil; roast directly on the oven rack at 350˚F for about an hour, or until tender when pierced with a knife. (This can be done while the oven is on for other reasons; roast beets alongside whatever you’re baking, then keep the beets in their foil in a bowl in the fridge for up to a week.) Once cool enough to handle, peel away the skins with your fingers.
• fresh greens (Inspired Greens, baby spinach or spring mix)
• diced roasted beets
• crumbled feta or goat cheese
• walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped, or pumpkin seeds
• extra-virgin olive oil
• Nonna Pia’s Balsamic Glaze (any variety)
• freshly ground black pepper
Arrange your greens on individual plates or a shallow platter. Top with roasted beets, crumbled feta or goat cheese, and toasted nuts. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serves as many as you like.
Also try Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Aged Cheddar using your favourite Nonna Pia's Balsamic Glaze.
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