A well-known landscape architect once said to me that the only garden she wanted to be in during the month of August was someone else’s. That pretty well summed up how I was feeling about my daily go-to salad….please, may I try one of yours instead?!?
We all fall into food ruts. Most of us have a basic repertoire of meals we prepare regularly–the ones we can make in our sleep. That “nailed-it” standard method might work for a chocolate-chip cookie recipe you decided was your all-time-favorite, but the same rule does not apply when eating greens.
It’s far easier to change up a dressing than to consistently modify the components of an everyday salad to keep from getting bored with the same flavors and textures. Maybe you get hooked on a novel addition for a while but before long, it’s back to the old combo.
Make something entirely different to dress your greens. Branch out, not with an extra drop of this or that, but create a dressing that has ingredients you’ve never used. Fill a jar with it and have your new brew ready for the whole week or even two. Store-bought dressings are expensive, they commonly contain sugar, and never will be as good as your own. It’s likely that their ingredients are inferior in quality to what you have sitting on your counter.
My New Salad Dressing:
Tahini Balsamic with Mustard and Lemon. This one has bonus nutrition and staying power with the addition of the protein, phytonutrients, and fat in the roasted sesame seeds (the tahini). It feels more like a meal even with just greens or vegetables. I buy a roasted sesame tahini because it tends to have more flavor (the organic tahini sold at Trader Joe’s does not have roasted seeds, but it will work; you may need to use another 1-2 T to balance the flavors of the balsamic.
I also like using tahini in my dressing because I tend to overeat seeds. I’ve learned to limit my daily nut consumption, but open a bag of roasted or raw seeds, and whoosh! they disappear instantly. Seeds are very good for you but extremely calorie dense. An entire bag in one sitting is probably too much.
It’s easiest to mix tahini when it’s room temperature so I leave mine out of the refrigerator for a few hours before making.
Taste all your dressings to adjust seasonings but taste again with the vegetable you are going to dress (dip a leaf in). What might not taste quite right in the jar could be just perfect on the greens.
Remove the tahini from refrigerator several hours in advance for easy mixing.
I use two containers–one that will hold about two cups so that I can comfortably mix the tahini and olive oil together without it going over the sides. The other container should be slightly larger since the vinegars and remaining ingredients will be combined in it, followed by the oil and tahini mixture.
Pour ¾ cup of olive oil into a small bowl, glass jar, or container large enough to hold about a cup of this mixture and with room to stir it together without spilling (I use a ¼ cup measure as pictured so when I add the tahini, using the same ¼ cup, the sticky seed butter comes out easily). My standard olive oil these days is the robust-flavored Organic Italian Extra Virgin, as seen in the photo. It costs $6.00 at Trader Joe’s. It is cold-pressed (good), but not a first-pressed oil (more expensive).
Into the second container add the remaining ingredients, except for the water, starting with the vinegars. Use a fork to mix them together. Add in the tahini-oil combo to the vinegar, then combine and taste. Adjust the seasoning (salt, pepper, or garlic). Retaste. Thin to the desired consistency starting with 2 T of cold water. It may thicken again after refrigeration and you may need to add water a second time. After you reach your desired consistency, dip a piece of your greens into the jar to make sure seasoning is to your liking. Add more of any of the ingredients if you choose.
Keep this dressing refrigerated as sesame seeds need to be cool to avoid spoiling.
A CLASSIC LIGHT VINAIGRETTE
Elizabeth (who goes by Biz–you can see her photos under our success tab) makes the loveliest light classic vinaigrette dressing that works perfectly if you have some delicate greens mixed into your salad. For example, the tahini dressing would be too heavy for arugula, but this one would be ideal.
Biz’s family dressing needs nothing more than the four ingredients listed and a grind of fresh pepper. It is versatile enough to combine with most any vegetable, or a salad that includes chicken or fish.
Mix ingredients together in bowl with a fork or add to a jar with a secure lid and shake to combine. Taste and adjust the mustard and pepper, if necessary.
After you tire of a new favorite dressing, ask a friend to bring a jar of his or hers to swap. Expand your horizons! This is an easy and inexpensive way to help keep you motivated to prepare foods at home rather than resorting to eating out.