4 Best Salad Recipes Dressing For a Healthier Body

salads

If there is one thing that I refuse to buy at the grocery store, it’s prepared salad dressing. It may be considered a convenience item, but the fact is, dressing couldn’t be simpler to make yourself—and it tastes way better and is free of unnecessary preservatives and fillers.

#1 BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

The traditional way to make a salad dressing is by slowly whisking olive oil into an acid-base (vinegar or lemon juice, for example) to ensure a beautiful emulsion.

But I like to dump everything into a jar and shake it vigorously—not quite as romantic as the traditional method, but it works just as well and eliminates an extra dirty dish to wash. Win-win, in my opinion!

I make this basic balsamic vinaigrette on a weekly basis. It’s really a suggested ratio rather than a recipe, as vinaigrettes are generally 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar (if you like your vinaigrette more acidic, feel free to adjust).

Depending on my mood, I either use shallots or garlic—the shallots are a little less pungent than the garlic—so feel free to substitute one for the other. And you can also add an array of herbs and spices or swap in different kinds of vinegar to make any number of flavor variations. Two of my favorites are white wine vinegar with fresh chervil and red wine vinegar with pureed roasted tomatoes.

This is the time to use that high-quality extra-virgin olive oil so its superior flavor can shine. My favorite salad to use this dressing with is a spring lettuce mix with toasted walnuts, sliced fresh strawberries, and Fromager d’Affinois blue cheese.

Ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette salad:

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1½ tablespoons minced shallot, or 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How To Make (Directions)

In a 16-ounce mason jar or similar lidded glass jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, shallot, red pepper flakes, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Shake vigorously until well combined. Taste and season with more red pepper flakes, salt and/or black pepper as desired. Keep in mind that salad greens have a lot of water in them, which will mellow out the vinaigrette’s flavor. The vinaigrette will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

#2 FIG WINE DRESSING

CUP Figs have long been one of my favorite fruits. When I was young, I lived near a state park where my sister and I would ride our bikes while our dad ran alongside us. In the late summer and early fall, our treat at the end of the bike ride was picking fruit from the giant fig tree rooted at the end of the trail. I’ve been hooked ever since. A Black Mission fig tree was one of the first trees that I planted in my backyard, followed by two more varieties: Panache and Violette de Bordeaux.

This recipe draws out the savory side of figs. The juicy fruit is cooked down to a jam with red wine and fresh thyme and then blended with piquant balsamic vinegar and aromatic shallots. Beautiful in a salad, it’s also wonderful as a sauce for grilled meats or an accompaniment for a cheese plate.

My salad of choice: sliced fresh figs, caramelized onions, and Gorgonzola cheese over mixed chicory greens.

Ingredients for BigWine Dressing:

  • ½ cup chopped fresh Black Mission figs (about 5 figs)
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

How To Make (Directions)

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the figs, wine, thyme, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until there is little liquid left, the figs have broken down, and the mixture is jammy, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a small food processor or blender and add the vinegar and shallot. Process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until it is fully incorporated. Taste and season with salt and more pepper as desired.

#3 LEMON YOGURT DRESSING

Here’s another super-simple salad dressing that I make all the time. It’s very creamy thanks to the yogurt, and the lemon and chives are bright and refreshing. My favorite salad for this dressing is mixed greens with shaved fennel, orange suprêmes, and chopped Castelvetrano olives.

The buttery green olives and sweet orange sections contrast perfectly with the tangy dressing. You’ll find this dressing is really versatile, though, and even makes a great dip for crudités.

Ingredients for Lemon Yogurt Dressing Salad

  • 1 cup full-fat yogurt (not Greek)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

How To Make (Directions)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice until smooth. Whisk in the olive oil, honey, chives, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper until blended. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

The dressing will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

#4 CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING

Hearty and packed with healthy ingredients, this dressing has a good dose of lemon juice to help the avocado maintain its brilliant green color. It may taste pretty lemony on its own, but when it’s tossed in a salad, the flavors balance well.

Since the dressing is so creamy, delicate lettuces have trouble standing up to it, so opt instead for heftier greens and vegetables. My ideal pairing for this dressing is a mix of chopped romaine, jicama, charred corn, cherry tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro.

Keep it vegetarian or add leftover meat—both make for a satisfying main-course salad thanks to the healthful fats and fiber in the avocado.

Ingredients for Creamy Avocado Dressing:

  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup avocado oil or mild extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche

How To Make (Directions)

In a small food processor or blender, combine the avocado, lemon juice, honey, coriander, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Process the mixture until well blended. With the motor running, drizzle in the avocado oil and continue to process until all the oil is incorporated. Add the crème fraîche and blend until incorporated.

Taste and season with more salt as desired.