A few days ago I was pushing my shopping cart down a winding aisle at the grocery store, gazing at the seemingly endless array of packaged salad dressing. I came to a realization; no one makes their own salad dressing anymore. And that’s if they’re a part of the small population in the U.S. who still eat salad regularly. I don’t have to tout the health benefits of fresh greens and vegetables which constitute a good salad, everyone knows it’s good for them. But that doesn’t mean everyone eats salad (myself included). Throwing a serving of greens onto your lunch or dinner plate isn’t difficult, especially with the host of ready-to-eat salad greens that are available. But when you douse that fresh goodness with a gallon of prepared Ranch dressing, any benefits are mostly canceled out – if not eliminated.
This is why I’ve made it a personal goal to always have my fridge stocked with at least a few ingredients to throw together a quick and healthful salad:
- I like baby spinach – organic & prewashed. All you have to do is grab a handful of leaves and throw it in a salad bowl. Sometimes I’ll switch it up and use a mesclun mix, arugula, or romaine. Whatever I use, if it doesn’t come packaged ready to eat, I like to wash, dry, and chop (if necessary) as soon as I get it home from the grocery store so that I really have no excuse not to toss together salads throughout the week.
- Fresh vegetables
- Some real easy picks that require no prep – baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms
- Use what you have on hand and try to buy what is seasonal – it’s fresher, cheaper and healthiest
- Cheese & nuts
- Adds extra flavor and texture
- Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts – try toasted or roasted for enhanced flavor
- Feta, blue cheese, parmesan, goat cheese (I like the herbed variety) – these cheeses are bold and flavorful so a little goes a long way
- Homemade dressing – see below
Making homemade salad dressing is easy. Really easy. Here’s all you need to know: 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. An acid can include vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white wine) or citruses like lemon. The best part of homemade salad dressing (minus the amazing taste) is the fact that the oil and acid actually helps your body absorb all the goodness from the salad. Be sure to choose high quality ingredients because of the simplicity and freshness of a salad – every flavor will shine through. Adding additional flavor ingredients like mustard (dijon, champagne), garlic, and fresh herbs provide an endless amount of flavor combination. And, as always, a healthy seasoning of salt & pepper really add a delicious gourmet touch.
With that in mind today I’ve decided to make a lemon dressing from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook (which I won in a giveaway – thanks Good. Food. Stories!). This dressing isn’t really a recipe but more of a method (as I discussed in the paragraph above). Jamie’s Food Revolution was really what inspired me to create this entire post.
Lemon Dressing (in 2 Minutes)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
Combine ingredients in a mason jar (or other container with lid). Put lid on and shake well to emulsify. Pour over salad (less is more), toss to coat, and serve immediately. Store leftovers in fridge, bringing dressing to room temperature before use. Dressing can easily be halved or doubled (12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup).