WHEN IT COMES TO DRESSING THAT PLATE OF MIXED GREENS, WE OFFER TWO SIMPLE RULES.
#1: Drizzle, don’t drench.
#2: Make your own or choose a bottled brand with a short list of whole ingredients you can pronounce.
MAKE IT: Unlike wine, white, rice or cider vinegar varieties that are made from fermented alcohol, balsamic vinegar is made from grape juice that is reduced to a thick syrup and then barrel-aged—for decades or even a century. True balsamic comes from only two regions in Italy: Modena or Reggio Emilia. If you want a standout vinaigrette, start with authentic balsamic. Next, complement it with a good extra-virgin olive oil.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar or container with a well-secured lid. Shake vigorously to combine.
- OPTIONAL ADD-INS: 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, herbs.
BUY IT: Simple Truth Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette
Like all of Simple Truth’s products, the certified organic salad dressings are free of 101 artificial and synthetic ingredients, including artificial preservatives, and are produced without synthetic fertilizers or GMOs. The vinaigrette is made with aged balsamic vinegar, honey and mustard. simpletruth.com
MAKE IT: Slightly reminiscent of Caesar dressing, thanks to minced anchovies or anchovy paste, classic Green Goddess also contains mayo and sour cream. As a substitute, we suggest Greek yogurt, avocado and olive oil. Fresh garlic, herbs and lemon juice and a good kosher salt are key to the vibrant flavor.
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 small ripe avocado, chopped
- 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/8 to ¼ cup minced chives and/or scallions
- 1/8 to ¼ cup minced fresh parsley and/or basil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine or tarragon vinegar
- 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and minced or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine first eight ingredients in a small blender and process until smooth.
- Slowly add olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency.
BUY IT: ANNIE’S GODDESS
A vegetarian take on the classic Goddess, Annie’s approximates the anchovy flavor with tahini, apple cider vinegar and soy sauce. Free of artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives, and GMOs. annies.com
MAKE IT: Part sweet, part tangy, poppy seed dressing features cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar and lemon juice) and honey. Some recipes also call for additional sugar, but we think the honey makes it sweet enough. For a creamier, healthier version, use plain yogurt and less or no oil.
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
- Combine the first five ingredients in a mason jar or a container with a well-secured lid. Shake vigorously to combine.
- Add oil a tablespoon at
a time until it reaches desired consistency.
BUY IT: BRIANNAS POPPY SEED
Briannas dressings are made without gluten, trans fat or high-fructose corn syrup. Try this one in place of mayo in a Waldorf salad or drizzled over apples, peaches, grapes or pineapple.
MAKE IT: America’s longtime favorite dressing does a lot more than salad: veggie dip, chicken wings, burger seasoning. According to consumer market research firm NPD, ranch claims double the market share in dollars and units-sold of the number two sauce, blue cheese, earning it the moniker “the new ketchup.” Unfortunately, its popularity and wide distribution mean most versions have gotten away from the original simple combination of buttermilk and spices to include everything from MSG to modified food starch. Even many “healthy” versions call for a significant amount of mayonnaise and sour cream. Swap them for plain or Greek yogurt and low-fat milk.
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt or organic plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- Whisk together milk and lemon juice in a small bowl, and let the flavor set for about 5 minutes .
- Add the yogurt and whisk until smooth.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the pearl onions and a pinch of salt, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, add 1 tablespoon butter, and increase heat to medium-high. Place the apples in the center of the pan. Sear on each side for 10 to 15
minutes, until caramelized Stir in the dry ingredients.
- For a thinner consistency, add more milk.
BUY IT: DREW’S ALL-NATURAL CREAMY RANCH DRESSING & QUICK MARINADE
Non-GMO Project-verified and gluten- and preservative-free, Drew’s is about as downhome a brand as you can get. Chef Drew Starkweather founded the company after customers started asking for bottles of the dressings he served in the Massachusetts restaurant where he was head chef. He mixed and bottled the first run himself and even designed the labels. chefdrew.com
ALSO TRY: OrganicVille’s Non Dairy Ranch, which uses organic soy milk in place of buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream.