Since bathing suit season is almost here, I have been thinking a lot about what I used to eat in the summer. I have to say goodbye to the warm baked foods that kept me warm and sane in the winter. Now it’s time to think about foods that fuel summer playtime, runs in the sun, and long days. Salads aren’t my obvious choice, but this dressing is packed with enough protein to keep you going without weighing you down with heavy carbs.
I’ve been a vegetarian since high school. Back then, the only food I could eat in the cafeteria came from our salad bar. So every day I ate shredded iceberg lettuce piled high with yellow fake cheddar, ranch dressing, and croutons. Sometimes I added carrots if I wanted to make it “healthy.” After eating that every day, it took me years before I could eat another salad.
But now I’m back to eating salads, in a very grown-up way. I’m looking at you arugula and ohmygod chickpeas in salads – incredible.
My first lesson in “grown-up salads” was making your own salad dressing. A lot of restaurant salads taste amazing because they don’t used bottled salad dressing. They make their own. Lately, I’ve been mixing tarragon vinegar, olive oil and these spice blends for a quick, incredible dressing. But this dressing adds a little more protein in my lunches to keep me fuller.
So creamy. So garlicky. So wonderful.
Instead of using milk or cream, this uses soft tofu to give it a smooth, creamy texture. Store this in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but it’s usually gone before then.
tofu garlic dressing
Recipe type: dressing
- 14 oz. soft tofu
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¾ medium yellow onion
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp of dried basil
- a few grinds of black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Yields 8 oz.
You can also use this as vegetable dipping sauce or top over brown rice bowls.
Maple miso should be right up there with peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese. It’s a perfect mix of salty and sweet. This was my first attempt at a homemade, just throw some stuff together dressing. The salad I create with it feels incredibly gourmet. But I pretty much always feel gourmet when I add fruit to my salads.
maple miso dressing
Recipe type: salad dressing
- 1 & ½ tbsp. miso
- ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
Serve with a spinach or spring green mix, slices of granny smith apples, and honey roasted anything.
This dressing is packed with flavor, so don’t over-do it. I only used two teaspoons or so on my salad.
Balsamic vinegars seem to be gaining in popularity, especially the thick, rich varieties that you can drizzle on top of almost anything like a delicious condiment. Some of them are very acidic and have a strong bite to them, but some of them are sweet and can almost be used in place of a chocolate syrup. You see where I’m heading with this?
You can definitely buy your own chocolate balsamic vinegar at a tap room, but if there isn’t one close by, making your own will work just as well.
I adapted a recipe I found at the Kitchn and thought it was rather unique.
The original recipe was a little too tart for my taste, so I added about 1/2 cup of sugar more and an additional 1/2 cup chocolate chips (to melt). If you use the chocolate chips, I recommend getting true dark chocolate without any milk.
It turned out spectacular – sweet and tangy. It’s thick and syrupy like a true balsamic reduction.
I made this chocolate balsamic vinegar for my boyfriend’s sister. It has to go on a plane, so I wasn’t able to package it nicely. However, mason jars work just fine. I bought a drizzling bottle for it to go in.
One day I’ll focus on making pretty labels. Until then, my cursive is all I’ve got.
chocolate balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar (If you have a really high-quality vinegar that is already thick and syrupy, you can skip the reduction and use 1 cup of vinegar).
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup unsweetened chocolate chips
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a saucepan, reduce the vinegar by cooking over low heat for about 20 - 30 minutes. It should become thicker and reduce some of its volume, so you're left with about a cup of vinegar.
- In a separate saucepan, use a medium heat to dissolve the sugar and salt into the water. Stir constantly until it begins to thicken.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the cocoa powder and the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until it becomes thick and syrupy.
- Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
- Wait until the chocolate sauce and vinegar have cooled before you mix them.
- Stir until well-combined and smooth.
- Pour the vinegar into a sterile jar.
Be warned, this will create a really strong vinegar stench in your house. But it’s worth it! Just to play it safe, I’d store this one in the fridge after it’s opened.