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. (more…)
To turn my ultimate shrimp cocktail from an appetizer into a dinner entree, I whipped up this simple salad. By jazzing up a fresh vinaigrette with some Greek yogurt, I turned it into a creamy yet light and tangy salad dressing that tastes refreshing and pairs well with most seafood. Topped it with some grated Parmesan for a little salty texture, and this salad is good to go.
On those beautifully sunny winter days when it’s almost temperate outside, I long for the colorful, juicy produce of summer. In those moments, I often forget about the vibrant fruit available to spruce up winter salads, and I suspect others are guilty of making this same mistake.
Tart pomegranate seeds and sweet pears bring some crunch to this salad, while the pulpy sweetness of persimmons is balanced by peppery arugula the creamy saltiness of goat cheese. Tossed with a sweet, slightly tangy and herby Orange-Thyme Vinaigrette, this salad showcases the best flavors and colors that winter has to offer and gives summer salads a run for their money.
I don’t know what kind of magic spells Dirty Girl Produce casts on their tomatoes, but their dry farmed, late season tomatoes are still some of the most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever had. So even in the midst of butternut squash season, I find myself craving their sweet, juicy, deep red tomatoes and buying multiple pounds of them at the farmers market, afraid that next weekend they’ll be gone forever … or at least until next summer.
Some might say I’ve been devouring tomatoes since I was a kid. And they’d be right. As a child, I was very excited to help my mom plant seeds in our vegetable garden and grew impatient as I watched them slowly blossom into cherry tomatoes. Then, of course, I borrowed a tomato or two off the vine for a midday snack and lied about it. Tomatoes missing? Must have been a deer. Or a turkey. Or a rabbit. Or a crow. (Thankfully, I grew up in the boonies of California, where it was not uncommon to find deer snacking on our lawn. So my stories always worked.)
Here, tomatoes provide a juicy sweetness and green beans add a nice, fresh crunch to this salad, while marinated herbed shrimp have hearty meatiness and a bright, tangy flavor that matches well with the veggies and the tangy Dilled Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. (more…)
Do you buy pre-made, bottled vinaigrette for your salads? If so, it’s okay. I’m not one to judge on this matter. Occasionally, I go on a Kraft Ranch Dressing bender. And I’ve been buying Girard’s Greek Feta Vinaigrette for years; with each purchase, I told myself that this one would be my last and that I was only making this last purchase so I could figure out how to recreate it from scratch with fresh ingredients at home. And so I lied to myself. Several times, and over several years. And I still haven’t even attempted it.
Having said that, vinaigrette is so easy to make at home, and tastes so fresh and delicious compared to the store-bought stuff that I really should make it from scratch more often. With a handy food processor or immersion blender (or even a whisk!) by my side, it literally takes seconds to come together.
With the citrusy bite of lemon and mustardy kick of Dijon balanced by a hint of tangy fresh dill and a touch of sweet honey, this particular vinaigrette is great on everything from salads and pastas to fish and chicken. (more…)