Salad Savvy

Spring is here. Summer is coming. It's time to lighten up my meals and get my body moving.

Salads have always been thought of as "diet food". It's true that salads can be a very healthy choice. You have to watch it, though. Some salads that you find in restaurants can be packed with high-fat dressings and high-calorie toppings.

Salads provide endless opportunities to get creative. They are also a great way to use left-overs. Got chicken in the fridge from last night's dinner? Cut it up and throw it on a salad. Is there produce in your drawer that's about to go bad? Chop it up and add it to your salad. Fruit is delicious on salad. So are nuts, veggies, and cheese.

Sometimes all I need is good balsamic vinegar to top my salads. Other times, I prefer to make something a bit fancier. Here are three basic dressings you could drizzle over your colorful creations.

Italian Vinaigrette
~This could not be simpler~
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard, and oregano in a small bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly until incorporated (or use an immersion blender*)
  3. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use or for up to a week.
*An immersion blender is not a necessary tool...but it's pretty awesome to have. It's pretty cheap (between $20-$30 for a decent one) and can be found at places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target. I love my immersion blender because I can blend soups right in the pot (as opposed to transferring the soup to a blender or food processor). I can also use it to make salad dressings, obviously. It looks like this:
Caesar Dressing
~Classic and delicious~
  • 1 1/2 tbsp anchovy paste (don't leave this out, the dressing's not the same without it)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 dry mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 olive oil
  1. Mix anchovy paste and garlic in a bowl. Mix with vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.
  2. Add olive oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified (or use an immersion blender).
  3. Drizzle dressing onto romaine lettuce with some croutons and curls of Parmesan cheese.
Bleu Cheese Dressing
~A bit "heavier", but wonderful when used in moderation~
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk (not as fattening as you might think)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (low fat is fine)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1/4 flat leaf parsley
  • 2 oz. crumbled firm bleu cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
  • pepper
  1. Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and salt with a whisk or immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Add chopped parsley.
  3. Add bleu cheese and blend until incorporated but slightly chunky.
  4. Stir in chives and pepper. Tastes great when served over iceburg lettuce wedges.
All three dressings learned at The Kitchen Workshop

I'll leave you with an excellent Protein packed salad recipe.

Tuna and White Bean Salad
~This is great for a simple and very healthy lunch~
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-19 oz.) can cannelloni or other white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 seedless cucumber (hothouse) quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices
  • 1 lb tomatoes (3 medium) cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 (6 oz.) can tuna packed in olive oil (or water), drained
  1. Mince garlic.
  2. Whisk together garlic paste, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl then add oil slowly in a stream while whisking (or use an immersion blender).
  3. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Gently toss beans, cucumber, tomatoes, and parsley with half of the dressing.
  5. Transfer to a platter or bowl over lettuce and arrange with tuna on top.
Recipe learned at The Kitchen Workshop


  1. love the salad dressings! I've never really made my own dressing (unless it's a salad I found in a magazine)!

  2. What I like about making my own dressing is that I know what's in it! Plus it's much cheaper if you have most of the ingredients laying around anyway