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Salad dressings are super easy, three basic rules


SwampNut
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You can easily substitute nuts for oil or mayo in dressings, and you can make super interesting things.  Last year at a pool party, a large group went nuts over a salad I made, wanted to know if it was some kind of restaurant dressing or something.  No, just fresh real foods.  These are people who normally just eat normal junk so they didn't know or care what was in it.

 

Base:  Nuts and nut butters are just easy and obvious.  Tofu can also be used with great effect.

 

Acid:  Any type of vinegar or lemon/lime juice, yuzu juice, bitter orange juice, etc.

 

Flavor:  Spices, fruit, garlic/roasted garlic, etc.  Mustard works very well in dressings as a background kick.  Raspberry dressing is an obvious fun one.  I have roasted garlic ready in the fridge at all times, I can quickly match a flavor for most any type of meal.

 

One of the favorites among my group is pistachios, roasted garlic, thyme, red wine or balsamic vinegar, mustard, potassium chloride.  You can use pine nuts, garlic, Italian spices, and any related vinegar (white wine, red wine, balsamic) to get a creamy italian or Mediterranean flavor and feel.  For a more Greek/Med flavor, try tahini instead of pine nuts (also way cheaper).  Think of the flavors you're working with for a meal and get inspired.

 

Asian vinegars, white pepper, low-sodium soy or coco aminos, cashews or tofu, Chinese five-spice, fish sauce...now your oriental meal has a salad.  If you want a flavor you can't get otherwise and are ok with a little oil, add a very small amount of sesame oil.

 

Add fruit and nuts to salads.  So red grapes cut in half, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, or really most anything not overly sweet.  Fine-chop green apples into a salad topping relish.

 

TIP:  Putting your acid in with cut up garlic takes the bite out of it.  I put those in the blender first and give them 5-10 minutes before adding the rest.  Acids cut bitter and other acids.  Lemon juice on arugula 20 minutes before serving means that people who say "I don't like arugula" now like it.  I live with one of those people.  Or any acid that goes with the meal, like balsamic.

 

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