Mix It Up: Healthy, Homemade Salad Dressings

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With the arrival of spring, it’s time to start enjoying salads packed with the fresh produce that will soon be available. And there are so many types of salad just waiting to be eaten. You can mix and match different lettuces, completely forget the lettuce (check out our Salad Days article in our Spring 2017 issue for inspiration), myriad toppings to add and oh, so many dressings. In fact, one of the easiest ways to jazz up your salad game is to start making homemade dressings. They’re easy. They’re usually cheaper than store-bought dressings (and don’t contain any unpronounceable ingredients). And they definitely taste better.

Consider versions of the basic vinaigrette, which follow this simple formula: vinegar or citrus juice (something acidic), oil, a fresh herb (or garlic or onion or all three) something sweet (honey, sugar, brown sugar) and a generous dash of coarse salt. By choosing different things from each above category, you can create a diverse spectrum of dressings. A few favorites are below, but first, a note: The Honey-Lime dressing recipe makes just enough to dress about four side salad servings. The Orange-Rosemary dressing is enough for about six side salads. Double or triple the amounts to make more. And the instructions are the same for all three: Place all ingredients in a mason jar, tighten the lid and shake really well just before serving.

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Honey-Lime Dressing

The full flavors of this dressing work well with Latin-inspired dishes. Try this: Toss cooked and cooled black-eyed peas (or black beans), chopped tomato, scallion, sweet corn and sweet or hot peppers with Honey-Lime Dressing and serve in hollowed out tomato with an extra squeeze of lime and pinch of salt.

  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
  • dash of coarse salt

Orange-Rosemary Dressing

A bright burst of tangy orange takes center stage in this dressing.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup blood-orange infused olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 5 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • dash of coarse salt

Sweet Ginger Dressing

Aromatic, slightly spicy ginger is the star of Sweet Ginger Dressing. Try this: Mix it with some roasted chicken, sliced scallions, shredded carrots and chopped peanuts for an easy chicken salad that’s full of flavor and crunch.

  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds