Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Salad Dressing Solved

Okay, so we all know that salad dressings can be a salad's demise. We can build a super healthy salad with all the freshest ingredients... and then smother it with a high-fat salad dressing, laden with highly processed oils and mega preservatives. Do you wonder how it can last that long on the shelf?

But are the low-fat varieties a good choice? Unfortunately, they are also full of highly-processed oils and the same mega preservatives. They may have less fat, but they don't have any beneficial nutrition. The oils in them will still harm our bodies. And yet our bodies need the right oils for healthy skin, hair and hormones. As a bonus, these healthy oils actually help our bodies to use the abundant nutrients found in salad vegetables.

You can find some Extra Virgin Olive Oil based dressings in the nutrition section of larger grocery stores and at health food stores. But, unless you find these on sale with coupons, frequent salad eaters will carve a big hole in their grocery budgets.

Here is the good news: you can make a healthy, tasty salad dressing with just a few pantry items. And the better news: it's quick and easy! Switching to a healthier salad dressing is a simple change that will really make a difference. This is my old standby recipe for a salad that serves four adults (or two adults, two big appetite kids and two small appetite kids).

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette:

In the bowl you plan on using to toss your salad in, whisk together

  • 1 tsp. brown mustard, which will help to emulsify the vinegar and oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • a dash of salt and a dash of pepper
Then, slowly whisk in 1/4 c. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Voila! I load my greens and veggies on top and then toss it all right in the same bowl. Less mess makes me happy.

You can try all sorts of variations for this recipe.
  • Using half EVOO and half sesame or walnut oil will give this a nuttier flavor.
  • Adding some freshly chopped herbs will give it some extra complexity.
  • Adding a minced garlic clove or two will give it some punch.
  • Trading out the balsamic vinegar for red wine vinegar will change the entire aroma and mood.
  • Or, substituting lemon or lime juice for the vinegar gives a fruitier flavor.
You can also double or triple this recipe to keep it on hand in the fridge if that suits your family better. Mix the dressing in a separate lidded container, and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Just remember to pull the dressing out as you are making the salad so that the oil comes to room temperature. (Olive oil will harden in the fridge.) Shake well before dressing your salad.

For my salad tips, read this previous post.

For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, visit


Cara said...

I've been needing to try this, I think you just motivated me :) I dumped our hydrogenated icky ranch dressing last week.

Noel said...

I'm writing down these recipes right now! :) I putting up a post later today about popcorn and olive oil (great minds think alike) and I linked to you. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a safe way to make Ranch dressing? That is about the only dressing my hubby likes? Thanks!

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Steph,

Here is a past post link for an alternative to ranch dressing. You may have to cut/paste into your browser.

Hope this helps! Amy Ellen

Kathryn said...

A friend made us salad recently with something similar to this. It was wonderful.

I do buy organic commercial dressings sometimes. But what i've found is that often i don't need much dressing at all.

I limit the amount of lettuce/spinach i use & use a lot of the other veggies - peas, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumber, sometimes cheese, etc - & i find that usually i don't miss a dressing at all. I particularly use this strategy if eating out & using a salad bar. Their produce might not be top notch, but at least i'm not adding their noxious salad dressing to my meal!

Cascia said...

Great tips! I'll have to try your recipes. We usually just mix extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar. I might have to try the version with brown mustard. I love brown mustard.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm! Dh makes a very similar version, except that he usually adds either sun-dried tomato paste (we make our own from our homegrown sun-dried tomatoes) or anchovy paste instead of the mustard.

~Sandy~ said...

I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you today. I chose your blog to recieve an award. You can pick it up over at mine.
Enjoy!!! (((hugs))) Sandy

Marissa said...

current favorite "dressing" is just to use hummus. I make my own or buy a good quality healthy one from the store and use it instead of some oily or sugary dressing. Plus the added nutrients don't hurt!