All the Salad Dressings!
All the Salad Dressings
I’m always looking for ways to make my meals healthier without sacrificing flavor. One of the easiest ways to do this is to eat salads. Use the freshest organic produce you can find, and, as much as possible, buy your greens and veggies in season.
“But wait!! What about salad dressings?” you say. “I hear they’re not good for you.” Well, that depends entirely on the ingredients. Recently I checked the ingredients list for Caesar Dressing from a major manufacturer. Here’s what it looked like:
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t ever remember craving defatted soy flour or disodium inosinate. And soybean oil (especially GMO soybean oil) isn’t going to do anything good for your health. As a matter of fact, one of the most important reasons to make your own dressing is to remove questionable fats from your diet and add fats that support your health. Case in point: soybean, canola, corn, “vegetable”, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and other seed oils are often genetically modified, and are processed in a way that makes them inflammatory inside the body. (The technical explanation is that these oils contain a large amount of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and are oxidized through processing.) Replace those oils in your salad dressing with a good quality olive oil and voila, you’ve taken a step towards lowering your inflammation.
Salad dressings are super fast and easy to make, and they can absolutely transform a salad from ordinary to anything but. When I say super fast, I mean 5 minutes tops for the most complicated of recipes. All you need is a blender or sometimes just a jar.
Today I’m including several of my current favorite recipes. Some are my own concoctions, and some are links to websites where cooking is done right.
Sunshine Vinaigrette Dressing
Years ago a friend gave me this recipe (thanks, Katy!), and then I doctored it a bit. These days it is my go- to instant dressing recipe. From spring until autumn we slather it on salads made from whatever is in season. The turmeric and black pepper combo adds an extra health kick to this recipe. No need for a blender, just combine in a pint canning jar and shake.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup olive oil
Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing
The perfect almost instant dijon dressing for my Salad Nicoise recipe or on any leafy green salad. Find a pint canning jar with the measurements on the side and you won’t even need a measuring cup.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- sea salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine in a jar, top with a lid, shake, rattle and roll.
Strawberry Basil Vinaigrette Dressing
Since I adore strawberries in the spring, I’ve been looking for a good strawberry vinaigrette recipe. But most of the recipes I found called for sugar. I won’t say I never eat sugar, but I’m always looking for ways to remove as much of it as possible. Here’s my take on a delicious Strawberry vinaigrette. This spring, serve it with a simple green salad. Add a sliced kiwi and a grilled chicken breast, and you have a feast.
- 1 cup fresh strawberries (or thawed frozen strawberries) 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- (add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum, blend well, and it becomes a dip for fresh fruit.)
Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a blender until smooth. While the blender is on a low speed, drizzle the olive oil through the small hole in the blender top, until all of the olive oil is incorporated.
Sesame Shiitake Vinaigrette
I love mining the web for new recipes. My husband requested this recipe that I’ve adapted from Letty’s Kitchen. Letty has a great recipe, but I prefer olive oil instead of the grapeseed or canola oil. Xanthan gum is a natural thickener, and in small quantities is considered harmless. (It can cause digestive upset if you eat large amounts.) I recommend Bob’s Red Mill brand because it is not genetically modified. If you leave out the xanthan gum, your dressing will be thinner and will separate quickly. No big deal, just shake the bottle again.
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms (usually found in the international section of larger grocery stores)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons gluten free tamari soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons reserved mushroom soaking water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum powder, optional
Put the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until the mushrooms are soft, about 10 minutes. Toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet, stirring until they are golden in color.
Remove from the heat so they don’t burn. Drain the mushrooms, reserving 3 tablespoons of the soaking water. Trim and discard the stem; chop the mushrooms. In a blender, put the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, reserved soaking water, sesame oil, the chopped mushrooms and xanthan gum, if using. Whir about 10 seconds, just until the mushrooms are tiny pieces. Add the toasted sesame seeds and blend a few seconds more.
Store in a glass jar, refrigerated.
I love Caesar Dressing, and the flavor of this recipe from Wellness Mama doesn’t disappoint! As I was
trying it out, I found out that you have to double the recipe if you are using a full-size blender simply to make enough for the blender blades to be covered. Try a smaller magic bullet or whisk by hand if you want to make a single recipe.
Ranch dressing seems to be beloved by all. Not so beloved is the maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate and artificial flavors that can be found in the original dressing. Make your own and you’ve solved the dilemma. Try this one from Wellness Mama. I like using yogurt for thickness and for the added probiotics.
5-Minute Magic Sauce
Swoon! This dressing from Pinch of Yum is quite possibly my favorite ever! Thicker than most dressings, it can be used as a sauce, a dressing, a dip, or simply eaten straight up as a not-so-guilty pleasure.