You already know that maple syrup is a perfect complement to pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Its natural sweetness and luxurious texture make it far superior to standard pancake syrup, whose artificial sugars — in the form of high fructose corn syrup — increase both weight gain and diabetes risk. Maple syrup, on the other hand, contains vitamins and minerals like manganese and zinc. So, while it typically costs a bit more than its mass-produced counterpart, it’s worth it, as both a sweet breakfast condiment and an excellent addition to savory and spicy dishes. Read on to learn how to incorporate maple syrup into meals beyond breakfast.
What kind of maple syrup should I use?
On a trip to Vermont last summer, I learned that there are a number of maple syrup varieties. They fall into four broad categories: golden, amber, dark, and very dark — and these designations are based on color, density, and flavor. According to VermontMaple.org, golden is light and best for pancakes and waffles, while dark and very dark are more hearty. Amber sits between light and dark maple syrup, and according to Vermont Maple, is “equally as good over waffles as it is in salad dressings, cocktails, or in a maple-sweetened barbecue sauce.”
For use in savory dishes, an amber or dark maple syrup is best. Keep in mind that these are just the basic categories of syrup, with each category comprising several flavors and infusions. Vermont-based Sugar Bob’s, for example, makes a smoked maple syrup with a bold flavor; and Runamok, another Vermont brand, makes chili pepper-infused and star anise-infused maple syrups, as well as syrups aged in bourbon barrels.
What kind of savory dishes can I make with maple syrup?
If you’re into the sweet-and-savory combination, you can pour maple syrup into just about anything. Here are some foods for thought:
- Fish. Maple syrup and fish may sound odd at first — but trust me, they taste great together. This simple recipe from the Ambitious Kitchen blog uses maple syrup, soy sauce, mustard, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and garlic to make a satisfying salmon dinner for two. There are tons of other maple syrup and salmon recipes online, because the sweetness of maple pairs particularly well with the rich yet mild qualities of the fish. You can also try Maple Soy Shrimp With Garlicky Spinach or Maple Balsamic Rainbow Trout.
- Meat. If you’ve ever enjoyed bacon or sausage dipped in maple syrup, you know why meats are on this list. A Maple Syrup Beef Stew is the antidote to a chilly night; Roast Pork With a Maple and Mustard Glaze makes a comforting holiday dinner; and Maple Roasted Chicken is a classic dish the whole family will enjoy.
- Vegetables. Roasting vegetables in maple syrup yields fabulous results. Try roasted Maple Sesame Broccoli, Maple-roasted Brussels Sprouts With Toasted Hazelnuts, or Maple Balsamic Roasted Asparagus With Cranberries and Feta. Any one of these maple/vegetable combos will spice up the side dishes at your Thanksgiving table.
- Tofu. No meat? No problem. Bon Appétit’s Crispy Tofu With a Maple-soy Glaze will delight vegetarians and convert tofu skeptics. Quick Maple Sriracha Tofu is an Asian-inspired dish that’s just the right amount of spicy. You can even bake tofu “steaks” in a maple-soy glaze for a simple yet filling dinner.
- Pasta. Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, so it makes sense that pasta and maple syrup make a dreamy pair (no, it’s not just a joke from the Christmas classic Elf!) Maple Curry Chicken Penne is unexpected but delish, while One Pan Maple, Squash, and Pancetta Pasta could be your new fall staple (and we love any single pot pasta dish!). On the flip side, if you’re looking for a project to occupy you on a long, cold day, try made-from-scratch Ricotta Feta Gnocchi With Maple Brown Butter and Sweet Peas.
Start With This: Maple Salmon
Not sure where to begin on your savory maple journey? This salmon from AllRecipes.com has over 4,000 five-star ratings and makes for an easy weeknight dinner. Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound salmon
- Stir first five ingredients together in small bowl.
- Cut salmon into four equal-sized fillets; place in a shallow glass baking dish and coat with maple syrup mixture. Cover dish and marinate salmon in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once halfway.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place baking dish in preheated oven and bake salmon uncovered until flesh easily flakes with a fork, about 20 minutes.
And there you have it — proof that maple syrup isn’t only good with breakfast. If you have a bottle of syrup in your fridge, you’ll be well-equipped to make a sweet and savory dinner any day of the week.