So here’s the dilemma.
You’re sitting in front of your healthy salad. It’s literally brimming over with nature’s bounty: an assortment of multi-colored veggies, greens, nuts and seeds.
But what to put on your salad?
If you’re used to reaching for the Ranch, the vinaigrette or 1,000 Island to dress up your salads, it’s definitely time to try something new.
Oils can contain 100 calories or more per tablespoon and can also have serious negative health consequences. Obviously, there is little point to dumping a ton of oil-based salad dressing over the top of your beautiful, healthy, low-calorie salads.
The magic is to start with the right (non-oil based) foundation. Here are some ideas for some great plant-based, oil free bases that will give you the most delicious salad dressings imaginable every single time.
- Broths and Juices: Mix vegetable broth with mustards, vinegars and fresh herbs for richness and that savory punch. Juices – especially citrus – release the flavors of fruits and vegetables instead of masking them. Combine sweet juices like apple and orange with vinegars for that sweet/tart flavor. Here’s a wildly popular recipe by Chef AJ called “Quick 6” salad dressing.
- Vinegars: There are virtually endless varieties of vinegars to pair with your salad ingredients. Apple cider, tarragon, balsamic and wine vinegars make excellent bases for salad dressings. This Magical Oil-Free Vinaigrette recipe blends apple cider and balsamic vinegars with unsweetened applesauce. You can also make your own flavored vinegars. Just put some of your favorite fruit in a jar, cover with white vinegar, cover tightly and store in a cool, dry place for a few days. Strain out the solids and refrigerate.
- Salsas: Fresh salsas aren’t just for Mexican salads. Fruity salsas add zing to salads, but for your fiesta salads, try this recipe. (Note: always substitute fresh for canned ingredients when you can.)
- Hummus: Good on just about everything, hummus adds creaminess and flavor to salads and fresh veggies. You can mix them with juices or a little water to make a thinner dressing or just plop right on top of your salads! You can easily adapt Nathan Pritikin’s super easy recipe for hummus dip into a creamy salad dressing.
- Nuts and Tahini: Dressings that use nuts or tahini won’t be as low in fat as the others, but they are creamy delicious and a nice treat once in a while. Chef AJ and Julieanna Hever’s Tahini Dill recipe is oil-free, but lives up to its “thick and luxurious” legend. It’s a decadent treat drizzled over salads, fresh broccoli and asparagus.
Finally, just so you never run out of delicious, oil-free salad and vegetable dressings, here’s the “Big List of No-oil Salad Dressings” with 35 yummy options!
It’s true oils help dressings stick to leafy greens and other vegetables and give a creamy goodness to salads, but you can get all those benefits and tons more flavor from oil-free dressings.
And the best part? They won’t weigh your veggies – or you – down!