Batter Licker

January 23, 2011

jalapeno-spiced banana-cilantro dressing

When I informed friends about my plan to exclude meat products from my weekday meals this month, I wasn’t surprised to get a lot of sarcastic “good luck with that” responses. What I didn’t tell them, and what you may have noticed from the “water saute” method I used in my vegan chard and potato soup, is that I’m also reducing my use of olive oil. I can only imagine their already-rolling eyes might have rolled right out of their heads if I had disclosed that. In fact, I think I can hear some of your eyes rolling around on the floor right now.

But I realized that, after years of being encouraged to use this “healthy oil,” I have become over-reliant on it. Whether making a vinaigrette for a “light” lunch salad, tossing kale leaves or chickpeas in it before baking them into crispy snacks, sauteing vegetables in it for a healthy side dish or a soup or stew base, or using it as an anti-stick agent when cooking fish and meat, I had forgotten that olive oil is still an oil, and a 120-calorie tablespoon here and there and seemingly everywhere really adds up.

In trying to reduce my olive oil intake, as well as sugar, I’ve realized that blending fruits into a salad dressing adds the “fruity” element typically added by olive oil without the calories and fat. Bananas are particularly great because they make the dressing sweet and creamy at the same time. But a pure banana dressing would be a bit too sweet, so I added jalapenos, ginger, cilantro, and lemon juice to cut the sweetness with a spicy kick, fresh herbal flavor, and acidity.

The resulting dressing is packed with flavor and nutrients, and tastes creamily sweet with a delightful zing from the jalapenos and the ginger. And you can use as much as you want on your salad because, guess what?? No oil! With this healthy combination, you can drink the entire 2/3 cup of dressing for a mere 130 calories.

Jalapeno-Spiced Banana-Cilantro Dressing
Makes about 2/3 c.

1 banana, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (substitute parsley if you prefer)
1 to 2 1/2 tsp. jalapeno, chopped
1/4 c. water

Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth (start with 1 tsp. jalapeno, but add more to suit your preference for spiciness). Dressing will keep up to 5 days in refrigerated, airtight container, but you’ll need to whisk it with a fork to mix the banana froth back in!

Serve over Mixed Greens, Chopped Peanuts, and Farro Salad. Or add some vodka and club soda for a spicy-sweet cocktail.


  1. Kris, I love you and your culinary perfection, but I don’t know about this one :) On the other hand, that soup from last time looks delicious!

    Comment by Kelsey — January 23, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  2. Your hesitancy just comes from being a banana hater. 😉 If you’re a banana texture-hater like me but like the flavor of banana in smoothies or banana bread, you’ll enjoy this since the food processor gets rid of that nasty, smooshy texture.

    Comment by Kristen — January 23, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  3. So when I put in my request for vegan recipes due to my recent vegan switch, I failed to mention I’m cutting out oils (people freak out when I say that so I usually just don’t mention it!) so it’s pretty fantastic to see you adopting the same thing! I’ve been using veggie broth instead of olive oil and it takes a little longer to cook my food but I don’t miss a thing with the taste. On top of that, the lbs are just falling off!

    Comment by GENNY — January 24, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  4. Good to know that you’re on board with the non-oil thing too! Veggie broth is a good idea – similar to the water saute thing – but I’ve had trouble finding veggie broths that are flavorful enough (and still low/no sodium) to justify buying them rather than using water. I should just save the discarded ends of veggies and use leftover veggies to make my own stock, I suppose, but if you have a brand or two that are good, let me know!

    Comment by Kristen — January 25, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  5. Well, after giving up seafood, steak, cheese and olive oil (those are the hardest) the one thing I’m holding on to is salt! I’m trying to cut back but for right now I need the flavor. I’m just using an organic veggie broth with (gasp) a boat load of sodium.

    Comment by GENNY — January 26, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  6. When did you go vegan? Oinkle Biil and I tried it for a month. No chicken or beef. Wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Needless to say, we do eat chicken and beef but not as much as we used to. I don’t know about that dressing. Sounds strange.

    Comment by YoYo — January 29, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

  7. I’m not full vegan, just Sunday through Thursday. Like you, I’m finding it much easier than I thought, and it does seem to really reduce my cravings for meat, cheese, oils, and salt (I cut oil and salt out too during the week). I also haven’t had an upset stomach since I started 2 1/2 weeks ago, whereas I used to get an upset stomach 2-3 times a week!

    Don’t knock the dressing until you try it. I was just messing around and having fun, and really didn’t expect it to turn out nearly as well as it did. On a salad with some chopped peanuts, it’s delicious!

    Comment by Kristen — February 2, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

  8. […] Jalapeno Spiced Banana Cilantro Dressing from […]

    Pingback by Compost revelations: Banana and cilantro | Nancy Bartlett — April 23, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

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