Tired of vinaigrettes, looking for new salad dressings
March 10, 2016 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I eat lots of salads and bowls. I'm getting tired of vinaigrettes and paying for overpriced bottled dressings. I'm looking for your best salad dressing recipes. More specifics after the jump.

I'm looking for new salad and bowl dressing recipes that are not vinaigrette, and either vegan or easily veganizable (i.e. replace dairy with cashew cream). My current favorites include Annie's Green Garlic and Cowgirl. Also, some of the dressings in Salad Samurai hit my sweet spot. I'm not opposed to unconventional things, like using hummus spiked with vinegar. I'm also good with unusual ingredients, like flax meal, hemp seeds, etc. But the old oil+mustard+vinegar+herbs is pretty played out for me. (Of course, if you have a unique, stellar vinaigrette, I'd be very interested in hearing about that too.) I have a Vitamix, which helps turning pretty much anything into a good dressing or sauce. If it helps, most of my salads are pretty free-form, consisting of greens, shredded cabbage and carrots, beans, tofu or tempeh, whole grains, and whatever other cut veggies I have on hand.
posted by slogger to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 111 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Soy sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha, and a little bit of sweetener (I use honey, but mirin, sugar, or maybe agave would work) make an excellent salad dressing—still in the vinaigrette vein, but different enough to make things interesting. I particularly like this on top of salads that include shredded carrots and thinly sliced cucumber.

I'm also a huge fan of this avocado/herb/pistachio/olive oil "magic sauce", which is tasty on all kinds of things.
posted by rebekah at 6:21 AM on March 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I am absolutely in love with this lemon-tahini dressing from Oh She Glows. Like, I would bathe in it if I would. (Bonus: good on everything else, not just salad.)

(scroll down to bottom of blog post)
posted by Kitteh at 6:28 AM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Tahini-Lemon Sauce, Dairy-Free Green Goddess Dressing
posted by neushoorn at 6:28 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: Tahini dressing, two ways. I always have one or both in my fridge.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:30 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: I couldn't find this a minute ago, finally remembered the right name: chia chipotle dressing.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:32 AM on March 10, 2016

I'm making this Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime dressing for a party this weekend.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:39 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: Carrot ginger dressing (like this or this) are a nice change of pace from standard vinaigrettes.
posted by katie at 6:45 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I posted this recipe yesterday, and I think the miso sauce would be a great dressing on a hearty salad if you thinned it out a bit more. Vegan if you're okay with honey. Miso tahini honey sauce.
posted by Liesl at 6:58 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: One I do often is tahini, umeboshi paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar, mirin, ginger (minced very fine or just the juice pressed in a garlic press), white pepper, wasabi powder.
posted by remembrancer at 7:03 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kiwi Manadarin Dressing

posted by Ftsqg at 7:06 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: You can make tarator sauces without dairy - I made this walnut tarator yesterday except I didn't have walnuts so I subbed in almonds and pine nuts. I suspect it is infinitely variable.
posted by AFII at 7:08 AM on March 10, 2016

I bet you could veganize a green goddess? Normaly its Mayo+Buttermilk+Herbs - tarragon, chives, watercress - + Anchovy for umami. And its delicious.
posted by JPD at 7:13 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: The world's greatest salad dressing is as follows (adapted from the Fresh cookbook):

1/2 of a white onion, diced
1/2 c sunflower oil (or whatever light-ish oil you like)
1/3 c rice vinegar
1/2 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp Tamari
2 (or more!) tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp raw sugar (or equivalent sweetener of choice)
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp black Pepper (or to taste)
Put everything in blender and whizz until delicious.

This is technically a vinegrette, but the pulverized ginger root makes it quite thick and creamy, so it doesn't feel like a vinegrette. This dressing has bite, and tang, and is (at least in our house) a "sip-the-remnants-from-your-salad-bowl-and-maybe-just-eat-a-spoonful-straight-from-the-jar" kind of dressing. It is SUPER ginger-y, though, so if that is not your thing you will not crave/worship this like I do.
posted by Dorinda at 7:20 AM on March 10, 2016 [9 favorites]

I recently made this mint-dill-yogurt-scallion sauce - it would be delicious on a salad if you could sub in tofu for the yogurt.
posted by yarly at 7:21 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: This is salad crack (and super easy):

Sesame oil, juice of an orange, dijon, and a slightly sweet vinegar like white balsamic.
Sooo good!
posted by flourpot at 7:22 AM on March 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Olive oil and lemon juice and a little salt, for when you just can't be bothered to emulsify.

Pomegranate molasses, olive oil, and balsamic or red wine vinegar.

I got a bottle of this smoked tart cherry shrub syrup as a gift recently and that plus olive oil was a great dressing, just like it says on the tin -- other shrub flavors would probably be good too.
posted by clavicle at 8:08 AM on March 10, 2016

What about something that isn't quite a dressing? Sometimes I like to add Kirkland's salsa to my salads instead of dressing.... it adds a bunch of flavour along with the moisture. Plus I'm lazy so it's nice to just pour from a bottle. But if you're creative I suppose you could make your own salsa.
posted by barnoley at 8:21 AM on March 10, 2016

A drizzle of flavored oil works well in place of making a dressing. Flavored olive oils, sesame oil, and truffle oil are all good.
posted by Polychrome at 8:35 AM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: I'm partial to the oil-free green goddess dressing as prepared by Isa in Appetite for Reduction.

2-3 average-size cloves garlic
½ cup fresh chives
½ cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon miso
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Puree, store in a jar in the fridge.

(I make triple batch volumes. It stores well.)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:38 AM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Serrano Lime dressing

Juice of 2 limes,
1/3 of a serrano pepper, finely minced
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
pinch of salt.

great for summery salads. Its hot, unlike most salad dressings.

I use this for a tomatillo/chickpea salad:

1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup water
2 tsp olive oil
2 Pinches salt
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This salad dressing ("Hollyhock") is like magic sauce. It is the most delicious salad dressing that I have ever tasted. I never get tired of it. I cannot overemphasize how BEST this salad dressing is.
posted by Cygnet at 11:06 AM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm obsessed with this Asian dressing from My New Roots (just whisk it all together):

2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1 T grated fresh ginger
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
2 tsp rice vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp Aleppo chile flakes (or to taste)

I am also obsessed with this green harissa sauce from the cookbook Bowl + Spoon (it is extra good on spicy greens like arugula):

1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup mint leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Serrano chili, seeded (or with seeds for spicy!)
Juice of half a lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blitz everything but the oil in a food processor/mini chopper. Then drizzle in the oil with the machine running until you get a smooth sauce. You can easily mix up the ratio of fresh herbs in this one depending on what you have on hand/find at the grocery (I often just make it with two of the listed herbs). Makes a lot but keeps pretty well in the fridge.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:39 AM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The go-to killer salad dressing in our house is this:

lime juice
fish sauce
olive oil
pinch of sugar/sweetener
opt: a little water to extend it as the flavor is intense
opt: red pepper flakes or other spicy-hot ingreds

Whatever amounts work for you (life is too short to measure ingreds). About equal amounts of lime juice and fish sauce. Make sure the sweetener is fully dissolved when tasting for balance.

Everyone in our family has been known to slurp a spoonful of it "straight". Friends who have been blessed with it on salads I've supplied, swoon.

No offense to all the other "best" S.D.s; this one is the BEST of the best. :-D
posted by dancing leaves at 11:44 AM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

^Yes, but how would you veganize it as per the OP's request?^
posted by Kitteh at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cygnet's HollyHock Salad Dressing working link.
posted by sarajane at 12:24 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Buy a bottle of pomegranate molasses. Add some to your previously-crap vinaigrette. Voila! It is now the best salad dressing ever made.
posted by tinkletown at 3:07 PM on March 10, 2016

New Orleans Coleslaw
posted by BWA at 4:35 PM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: I always really enjoy this one, and it's vegan: olive oil, miso (red or white), garlic, balsamic vinegar (not fancy kind) and dijon mustard. Sometimes a dash of maple syrup or squeeze of lemon. Yes it has oil, vinegar and mustard, but the thickness of the miso combined with the richness of the balsamic gives it a real heartiness. I also second the many recommendations for tahini dressing, so delicious.
posted by kaspen at 4:48 PM on March 10, 2016

I'm obsessed with this very non-vegan spicy southwest ranch - which I have successfully made with Nayonaise and Tofutti "sour cream", thinned with a little water if necessary. The taste is a bit different from the non-vegan version but still really, really good (and much healthier!).
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:32 PM on March 10, 2016

My "house salad:"

1. Thinly slice maybe a quarter cup of onion, shallot, or scallion.

2. Moisten with maybe 2 tbsp vinegar - I like red wine but whatever your're in the mood for - and add some black pepper and sumac.

3. In the largest bowl you own, toss the greens etc. with some damn good olive oil - a little goes a long way - and a pinch of salt.

4. Toss in the onion-vinegar mix. Maybe add more vinegar or a dab of dijon to taste.

What happens if you do it this way is that a) the oil protects the greens from the vinegar which would otherwise wilt them, b) the vinegar and onion macerate and improve each other's flavor, and c) the oil and vinegar don't emulsify, so their individual flavors are more defined, as are whatever it is they're dressing. I haven't made a vinaigrette in years.
posted by STFUDonnie at 9:30 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Great recommendations, thanks! I especially enjoy the super-savory like ingredients like miso, shoyu and nutritional yeast. BTW: I'm not vegan but eat that way about 90% of the time. I'm just always looking for ways to substitute or avoid animal products.
posted by slogger at 6:05 AM on March 11, 2016

Honestly, almost all of my dressing is:
olive oil
acid (lemon juice, vinegar of whatever sort)
a pinch of salt

Depending on the salad, I might have a sweet element (honey, maple syrup, with the acid as lime juice in that case).
It's boring but incredibly reliable and you will always have the ingredients.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:14 PM on March 11, 2016

The improvised standard in our house, adjusted to taste (also used as a dipping sauce for whatever needs dipping):

-70g plain yogurt per person (could be a vegan yogurt as long as it is no sugar added?)
-The smallest amount of liquid smoke you can pour out of the bottle
-A splash of soy sauce
-More garlic powder than you think is wise
-A hefty dose of vegetable broth powder (maybe a half teaspoon per person?)
-A spoon or two of pickle brine, or failing that, some sort of acidic component, lemon juice or vinegar
-A shake of dried chives
-Some cayenne powder for desired spice

Mix it all together and if it tastes boring, add more vegetable broth powder (the kind without nutritional yeast added).
posted by Bibliogeek at 11:09 AM on March 12, 2016

Maple syrup, mayonnaise and wine vinegar. Proportions of 1-3-1 respectively.
posted by storybored at 9:24 PM on March 15, 2016

I'm coming back to this thread late just to say that I tried ponzu and sesame oil for the first time this week and it was amazing! I had it on a kale salad with eggs and crispy seaweed, and I think it would go great on shredded cabbage and carrots and tofu.
posted by clavicle at 2:46 PM on March 24, 2016

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