What are some simple salad dressings using basic ingredients?
I’m of the belief (and practice) that we should all eat at least one giant salad every day (I’m talking a whole head of greens). In order to keep up the habit and even look forward to it, you have to have a really tasty salad. And that usually translates into a really tasty salad dressing.
Have you ever thrown away a full bottle of salad dressing because it was sitting, forgotten in the fridge, until it passed its expiration date by a few months? So have I and every other person who lives in a consumer culture!
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can avoid purchasing another dressing but still make your salads taste great with not much more time than it takes to squeeze a bottle of dressing.
Salad dressing minimalism? Is there such a thing? Well, yes. Using the ingredients you already have around.
It saves precious fridge door space and money at the same time! Plus, it’s healthier and will help with weight loss. And, where the bottle leaves you with only one flavor night after night, with these ideas you can have a different dressing for every night of the week. So no more excuses that salads are boring!
On my 2+ month roadtrip, I’ve had to either bring condiments with me or make do with what I can scrounge at each of my destinations. Consequently, my salad dressings have mostly come from the following list.
10 one-second salad dressings
Toss your salad with a prepared sauce or condiment from your fridge. Preferably one that has a nice clean, tidy ingredients list like the following:
This is my go-to salad dressing. Mustard has virtually no calories but plenty of flavor. Check the ingredients list. It’s best if it uses (apple) cider vinegar rather than white vinegar. Honey mustard is obviously not vegan and beware that some mustards might have sugar added if you are avoiding that. You can also experiment with different mustard flavors like German or horseradish.
Pairs well with: romaine and cherry tomatoes.
Another choice which packs a lot of flavor into minimal calories. If you can, try to get one with a lower sodium level (below 10% for 4 Tbsp), but if you are only eating whole foods in your diet, you can afford that little bit of sodium. If you can find it fresh in the refrigerated section, even better! And since it uses tomatoes, organic is a plus.
Pairs well with: Mexican-inspired salads of black/pinto beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and corn.
Use balsamic if you want a sweeter taste to your salad. Like wine, there is quite a range in quality and flavor in balsamics. I recently had the opportunity to compare a basic bottle to $30 and $50 bottles. Wowzas! But, don’t worry, the basic stuff still makes your salad taste great! You can also try the fruit-flavored version like fig.
Yes, mixing olive oil with vinegar is the standard “clean” dressing, but think about this: if half a vinaigrette is oil then it’s 60 calories per tablespoon. When you have a giant salad and add extra dressing to accommodate those extra greens, you end up adding a couple hundred more calories pretty quickly. Balsamic, in contrast, has 10 calories per tablespoon. You see where I’m going with this?
Pairs well with: spinach and strawberries.
Simply cut and squeeze a fresh lemon on your salad. I keep lemon quarters in my fridge to make this quick. You could also use the bottled stuff in a pinch. Try also adding a dash of pepper and nutritional yeast.
Pairs well with: avocado and full-flavored, rich ingredients like olives and parsley.
Balsamic vinegar + Dijon mustard
Sweet and sour combo! The sweetness of the balsamic balances out the tangyness of the mustard.
Pairs well with: mixed greens.
Apple cider vinegar + Nutritional yeast
Adds a “cheesy” flavor. Another of my go-to dressings especially if I want it creamier or more hearty. Holds up to tougher veggies. Choose an unpasteurized vinegar “with the mother” so you get the probiotic benefit (and don’t be grossed out by the floaters in your bottle, they’re good for you).
Pairs well with: sweet red peppers and massaged kale.
Use the fresh stuff from fridge section at the store; it will say something like “raw” or “unpasteurized” on the jar. It has probiotics so you get a bonus point! Try tossing it with a shredded cabbage salad (or dry slaw) and letting your salad sit for awhile to “pre-digest” and soften the cabbage.
Roasted red peppers
If you have a jar of these preserved in brine, you can toss some of the peppers along with some of the liquid into your salad for a tangy, smoky taste.
Pairs well with: cilantro and chives.
Tabasco, buffalo sauce, sriracha, and any other of the tons of types of hot sauce. Just check the ingredients label. I normally don’t like when sugar is an ingredient, but if you are only using it in tiny amounts occasionally, use your own judgement.
Your favorite bottle
When you’re cooking and you go to season your dish, is there a condiment you reach for most often? Try adding that to your salad.
Hopefully this article gave you a taste of some ways to use condiments that you never considered before. By now you should be starting to look at every item in your fridge or cupboard as a potential salad flavor-enhancer.
My real goal was to change your mindset to get you started thinking beyond the bottle.
If you liked this article, you’ll love my super-simple 2-ingredient gourmet salad dressing recipe. And if you LOVED this article, get my 3-minute superfood breakfast to power your day by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. 😉
Now your turn. What is one condiment you have in your fridge/pantry that you’ve used to make a delicious salad dressing in the past? What’s one that you now plan to use after reading this? Leave it in the comments.
This is another Healthy Vegan Friday.