Move over ranch dressing, there’s a new kid in town.
So, let’s talk about salad, or more appropriately salad dressings. I have a favorite salad dressing recipe or three to share that you can whip up easily for your everyday salad needs. You can’t always have your favorite bottle of french dressing on hand and a bowl of naked leafy greens isn’t so great either. The ability to whip up a homemade salad dressing in a pinch is an important part of your kitchen repertoire.
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are great but only go so far. I love a good greek salad dressing as much as the next person, but sometimes that feels a little overdone. Honestly, you can freestyle salad dressing with combinations of simple ingredients that you likely have right now: olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, mustard, sour cream, greek yogurt, honey, maple syrup, fresh herbs, red wine vinegar, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and creativity. You never know how much that one simple ingredient is going to change the flavor; switch out the mustard for honey mustard and your salad greens might just pop. Add a bit of bacon to make it a bacon dressing, and your pasta salad might become the stuff of legends. Never underestimate the power of freshly ground pepper to transform your salad dressing.
A mix of greek yogurt, oil, dill, and a pinch of salt and pepper would make a nice creamy dressing for cucumber salad. Of late, I’ve been making kale and spinach salad with a simple balsamic vinaigrette that has a touch of maple syrup. Olive oil, red wine vinegar, a bit of lemon, and oregano can make an easy greek dressing or marinade. Switch the wine vinegar and oregano for balsamic vinegar and basil, and now it’s italian dressing.
But if you need a little structure before you feel confident stepping out on your own when it comes to salad dressings, I have been working hard at using fresh, on-hand ingredients, and exploring new recipes from the giant pile of underused cookbooks in my kitchen. I’m very happy to share some of these light and easy winners with you.
Ridiculously easy and I love fooling people with it. This recipe is taken from The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook which is filled with plant-based low-fat/no-fat recipes. Overall there are some great salads in this book, but this is my star choice.
- 1/2 of one ripe banana
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Place both ingredients in a bullet blender and blend.
That’s it. The recipe recommends using it with a kale salad that has grapes and chunks of apples. Massage it throughout the kale first and then add the rest of the ingredients.
My next new love this summer is a tart little number that I took from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat which is the one cookbook you should own right now. This dressing takes her shaved carrot salad into the stratosphere, no joke, the flavor is amazing, but it’s also a fabulously easy way to dress a green salad when you want a little tang or a fresh way to marinate some chicken or white fish before grilling. There are no rules, only right.
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice from about 2 small limes
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced
- Kosher salt
Throw everything in a leak-proof container and shake it up. Voila!
Thai Style Peanut Dressing
I will forever love the fresh and at the time, innovative recipes from my Moosewood Cookbook. I was gifted a copy of the 1992 revision of the 1974 original and I love, love, love that book. This time around, I am talking about the salad dressing recipe for the Thai salad, which by the way, is also the only recipe ever where I’ve made tofu and my family liked it. As in, no leftovers liked it.
I’ve also marinated a chicken with this before grilling, this salad dressing recipe makes a lot and you have to use it up right?
- 6 tbsp good peanut butter
- 1 cup boiling water
- 4 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar or honey
- 1 to 11/2 tsp salt
- 3 to 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- crushed red pepper or cayenne, to taste
- 2 tsp lemon or lime juice
Combine the peanut butter and the water first until you have a nice emulsion, then add the rest and let it chill to combine the flavors.
There you have it, three reasons why you shouldn’t be complaining about food prep this summer. I’m pretty sure that you have all of these ingredients on hand in your cupboards.
Have a great salad for dinner tonight and stay safe friends.