In the summer, I can’t get enough of salads. Is this statement redundant? I literally eat so many salads I can’t remember how many times I have written about them, but when you get creative with them, there is nothing boring or repetitious about a salad.
I remember when we first started dating, and I would tell my then boyfriend, now husband, that I was planning to make us a salad for lunch or dinner. He would ask me what else was on the menu. It took him a while to realize that salad could be a full meal in and of itself, but now he loves it.
So, since I make so many salads as meals, I like to mix up what is in them and make them as exciting to eat as possible, with different combinations and lots of ingredients. There is a long list of items I like to keep on hand to create good salads and it includes, but is not limited to, the following: roasted and pickled beets, grilled onions, steamed potatoes, goat cheese, feta cheese, carrots, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, corn, peas, marcona almonds, pistachios, bread I can turn into croutons, grilled chicken, smoked turkey, steamed asparagus, steamed broccoli, dried cranberries, pickled veggies, salsa, tortilla chips, just to name a few.
If you have these items around, you are more apt to make a salad that could suffice as a meal, and all you have to do is grab the lettuce from your garden and make a quick dressing.
Speaking of dressing, a homemade dressing is important to any good salad. Most bottled dressings have sugar and weird artificial preservatives in them, and I try not to buy them. When in a pinch, I use Annie’s Goddess dressing. I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that we usually keep a bottle of ranch in the house.
The simplest salad dressing is high quality salt, pepper, balsamic dressing and olive oil, sprinkled on the salad and tossed. Add a clove of crushed garlic and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and its even better. That is a quick go-to when in a rush.
I often like to keep a jar of the feta herb dressing from Sweetwater in my fridge too. You can buy a mason jar of it from them, or the recipe was in the first issue of Dishing and can be found online. I love this dressing almost more than any other. It is great on a simple green salad, goes obviously well with a Greek salad, and I use it over grilled chicken, grilled onions and croutons with fresh veggies.
Recently I made a dressing that will rival that one as my new favorite. I’ve been trying as hard as possible to get things interesting in the kitchen this summer, and since I’ve made so many salads, wanted to come up with a new dressing. I have a cilantro plant and wanted to use that and thought it would go well with a jalapeno and lime base. I threw some things I knew would work well together and the result was delicious!
In fact, I would go as far as to say I am officially obsessed with this dressing. It is that good. It is thick and flavorful, tangy and creamy, with a little kick of spice. Feel free to make it spicier if you prefer, but I found it just right. I keep roasted garlic in my fridge, but if you don’t I highly suggest roasting a head of garlic for this dressing (cut the top, dowse it with oil, cover it in foil and cook it in a 350 F oven). If you don’t have time to roast a head and don’t have any on hand, cut back the amount to one clove.
This will make you a good amount of dressing that you can keep on hand for a week or so. It is thick enough to be a dip as well.
Recipe: Spicy Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing
- 1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, washed well
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 jalapenos, steams removed but seeds in tact
- ¾ cup fresh lime juice
- Salad suggestions for the dressing to go on:
- Chopped romaine
- Grilled chicken
- Tortilla chips
- Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.