Agave nectar flavors the Garden Party Cocktail, but this natural sweetener is more than just a drink mixer. It comes in light and dark varieties, the light being very mild—almost neutral—while the dark has a deeper, almost maple-like flavor. Unlike honey, agave doesn’t crystallize, and it dissolves easily. Here are several ways we like to use agave:
Agave granola Mix rolled oats, dried fruit like cranberries or golden raisins, chopped nuts, and sunfl ower seeds with light agave and bake in the oven until toasted and crunchy.
Agave and orange smoothie In a blender combine plain yogurt with mixed frozen fruit, a splash of orange juice, and a few tablespoons of dark agave.
Agave and balsamic glazed baby back ribs Combine dark agave with balsamic vinegar and a sprig of thyme and reduce in a small saucepan until syrupy. Brush on par-cooked baby back ribs and grill over medium-high heat, glazing the ribs often until nicely caramelized.
Cedar-planked salmon with agave soy marinade Whisk soy sauce, dark agave, a little lime juice, ginger, and chopped scallion. Marinate a side of salmon in the mixture for an hour or two. Pat the salmon dry and grill on a cedar plank, brushing a few times with the marinade at the beginning of cooking.
Sautéed radishes with agave and chives Sauté quartered radishes in a little butter with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss with a vinaigrette of citrus juice, light agave, and chopped chives.
Agave as a substitute
You can substitute agave for most other sweeteners, but some experimentation may be needed when substituting in a baked-good recipe, because the agave will alter the chemistry of the recipe. Agave is about 40 percent sweeter than sugar, so to substitute for white or brown sugar, use about 2/3 cup agave for every cup of sugar, and reduce other liquids in the recipe by about 1/4 cup. To substitute agave for maple syrup or honey, use an equal amount.