Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing

Soon tomatoes will appear!

Soon tomatoes will appear!

“Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.” 
― Eurdora Welty

Is there anything more delicious than a homegrown tomato fresh out of the garden? While purists say garden tomatoes should be enjoyed plain and unfettered from even a shake of salt and pepper, I love to embellish tomatoes with fresh snipped herbs. Basil, dill, cilantro, chives, parsley (you get the picture…I have an affinity for fresh herbs AND tomatoes). Knowing this, you can imagine how happy I was when I spotted the first flowers on my

My cute little garden

My cute little garden

tomato plants a few days ago. True, in the U.P. of Michigan we start our gardens late (unless you want to go through the labor of covering them each night in hopes that frost’s cruel fingers do not wrap tightly around your tender plants) but our weather can also be hot and fruitful for tomatoes.

My vegetable garden was planted on June 10th and my tomatoes are starting to thrive in the warm weather we are finally experiencing. My mom, Karen, started my tomato plants from seed and we planted twenty-five. She also gave me spaghetti squash, turnip, jalapeno pepper, eggplant, cabbage, and many flower seedlings. I planted a variety of lettuce,

The self-watering containers that Mike built me for five tomato plants. They water from underneath.

The self-watering containers that Mike built me for five tomato plants. They water from underneath.

spinach, cucumber, zucchini, a couple of beans, and peas, along with a container herb garden. Turnips do especially well in my garden and I do confess that I enjoy the greens more than the root vegetable. Turnip greens make phenomenal smoothies.

Last night I did spot a sweet little rabbit munching away on my front flower bed and a few minutes later our dog Phoebe and I caught him in the vegetable garden. (Sorry Mom, I think he nibbled on my cabbage plants…).

I have a soft-spot for animals.

I have a soft-spot for animals.

I know that we could put up fencing, or make the liquid fence my mom swears by, but I am not too concerned since the rabbits seem to leave my tomatoes alone. Soon our farmer’s market will be brimming with fresh produce and I am looking forward to being able to support local farmers.

With an abundance of fresh produce, summer is salad season. While we eat salads year round, in the summer our salads often take center stage and become the main course. When it is hot a salad really hits the spot and is a snap to prepare (without having to cook).

I love to make my own salad dressings so I know exactly what I’m eating. I feel better knowing that my dressing is 11preservative and additive-free, and since I control how much oil I put in, my dressing is easy on the waistline. I normally do not follow a recipe and just dump in the ingredients, but I have come to realize that being a food blogger means that I have to share exact measurements. 😉 Though, as I always mention in my posts, make sure you tweak recipes to suit your own taste buds. When it comes to salad dressing I prefer tart and tangy. The only salad dressing that I buy is Newman’s Own Light Italian and an occasional bottle of Annie’s. I keep two bottles in the refrigerator and when I buy a fresh bottle, half gets dumped into the other and I fill both with a combination of vinegar and lemon juice. Not only does this give me the tangy taste that I desire, but cutting it with vinegar/lemon juice, also makes it less fattening.

Today I am going to share my recipe for Orange Dill Vinaigrette. Because of the addition of  orange juice it is a sweeter variety of dressing and you can control the level of tartness by how much vinegar you add. Often when I make dressings I do not add the oil in and instead add the oil to each individual salad for portion control. Often people trying to manage their weight want to skimp on the oil, but a high quality olive oil truly enhances the taste of dressing and has so many health benefits. The oil helps us absorb the Vitamin K in the greens, keeps our digestion regular, is necessary for proper brain function, and our skin, nails, and hair really benefit from the nutrients in the oil. For this recipe I keep the oil portion small but adding more would work as well. After investigating vinaigrettes on-line I found that some chefs use a 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio for dressings.

Ingredients Pictured: White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion, Fresh Dill, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper

Ingredients Pictured: White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion, Fresh Dill, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper

13ORANGE DILL VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 orange (juice and zest. The orange I juiced rendered 1/2 cup of juice and I added approximately 1 Tablespoon of zest)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for Weight Watchers: 1/4 cup of oil makes the dressing 2 PP per Tablespoon. If you reduce the oil to 1/8 cup it is 1 PP per Tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (this may vary by personal taste. Growing up, dill was a major food group since my family loves pickles.)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (or you could omit and season the salad itself)

To make the dressing you can chop the onion, dill, finely mince the garlic and whisk all of Vitamixthe ingredients together. However, the best method that I have found is to put all the ingredients into the blender and give it a good pulse. If you want to make the dressing more visually pleasing you can add some chopped dill to the final product.

Store in the refrigerator in a cruet or Mason jar (or recycle a jar the next time you have one) and give it a good shake before serving. People often ask how long my salad dressing last in the refrigerator but I end up using them within a week . I would imagine that this one would last for a couple of weeks.

Link to recipe on Pinterest

This dill in this dressing marries well with the orange juice and it gives it just the right balance of tangy and sweet without having to add sugar. In my next post I will be featuring a salad that I came up with using my Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing. To give you a hint it combined roasted beets, mango, blueberries, and other fresh vegetables for a vibrant and cool summer salad. It is a perfect plated dinner salad or can be layered in a Mason jar.

My latest goal is to not buy bottled dressing at all, so I promise to keep the salad dressing recipes coming! If you are interested in more homemade dressings here are my recipes for Tangy Ranch and Zesty Avocado (plant-based dressings). Link to Ranch and Avocado dressing recipes on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy the Orange Dill Vinaigrette dressing as much as I do. Please join the conversation by “liking” my Produce with Amy facebook group. Recipe reviews are always appreciated and let me know what kind of recipes interest you. I love being able to help others maximize their health and productivity by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Cheers to additive and preservative free salad dressing, the bounty of summer, and thriving!
(Clink on image for a larger version).

(Clink on image for a larger version).

Link to recipe visual on Pinterest

Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing


Advertisements

Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Our dog Phoebe and I enjoying sunshine and tulips on a gorgeous May afternoon.

Our dog Phoebe and I enjoying sunshine and tulips on a gorgeous May afternoon.

If you have a Pinterest account you are probably familiar with Mason Jar Salads. They are easy to make, keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and are visually appealing (I think they look like lovely edible terrarium gardens). Jarred salads are a great way to encourage yourself, and your family, to eat more fruit and vegetables and reduce waste (since you will not be throwing out unused produce). Food waste is usually a common concern that comes up when people tell me they are trying to eat healthier. So many people confess to buying fresh fruit and vegetables which become doomed to live in the bottom of the refrigerator drawer to inevitably spoil and get tossed in the garbage. If that is a problem that plagues your kitchen, I think that these salads are exactly what you need to make!

For the past few weeks I have made a number of Mason Jar Salads to enhance my lunch and dinners. Usually, I toss in the ingredients that I have on hand but this summer I hope to come up with recipes for tasty salad combinations (I have already brainstormed ten recipes, two of which I will share today).

A few weeks back I made a visual for my Produce with Amy Facebook page and for these salads I used vinegar and oil dressing, bell peppers, banana peppers, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, radishes, red onion, kalamata and garlic stuffed green olives, pea pods, artichoke hearts, and romaine lettuce.
(Click on the photo to see a larger version)(Click on the photo to see a larger version)

While I often have Mason Jars on hand from my mom’s should-be-world-famous dill pickles, I give the jars back to her so she will give me more. Instead of going out and buying new Mason Jars, I started recycling spaghetti sauce jars and they work perfectly for the jarred salads. However, I plan to eventually purchase wide-mouthed one quart Mason jars for my salads.

jars

Recycle spaghetti sauce jars

When you prepare your salads make sure that you add the dressing first, heartier vegetables and fruit next (bell peppers, carrots, beans) and the lettuce last (the acid in the dressing will make the lettuce slimy so you have to make sure it does not touch). The salad dressing marinates the fruit and vegetables that it touches and helps marry the flavors of your salad.

Some of the frequently asked questions about the salads that I have heard are:

Q: Do you have to vacuum seal the salads?
A: No, I do not vacuum seal my salads. I simply close the lid tightly and they have kept for seven days in the refrigerator. They may even last longer but I often eat one for lunch and one for dinner so they disappear quickly.

Q: Can you put meat and cheese in the salads?
A: While I do not eat meat or cheese, I have seen Mason Jar Salad recipes that contain both. I would think that the meat would stay fresh for a few days and I would sprinkle cheese near the top of the salad.

Q: How do you eat the salads?
A: Give the jars a shake and pour on a plate or bowl or eat straight out of the jar.

Q: What is the benefit of putting the salads in a jar?
A:1. The glass helps keep the greens crisp. I read one blog post where a woman washes and stores all her greens in glass jars in the refrigerator.
2. The salads are quickly made in bulk and the slim jars are easy to store in the refrigerator.
3. I have made the jarred salads for my husband and they fit easier in his lunchbox (cooler) than a covered bowl.
4. The salads are visually beautiful and a great reminder to grab a healthy snack before or after school/work. You can also make fruit salad in the jars. Kids LOVE helping make the salads and you can use smaller jars for small children.
5. Many of my Weight Watchers members commented that if they toss together a salad for work or after a long day they use lettuce, tomato, and maybe cucumber. The jarred salads REALLY hold a lot of ingredients and are a great way to add variety and rainbow of fruit and vegetables to your menu. I find that the more layers that I add the more visually appealing the salads become.

My friend Sally Karttunen shared a great tip for the jarred salads. She said when she made her salads she used mason jars and added a large, decorative cupcake paper liner to the flat jar lid before screwing on the jar ring. This touch made the salads extra cute and attractive. Thanks for the great tip, Sally!

The two jarred salad recipes that I will share today are CLASSIC SALAD BAR IN A JAR and WALDORF INSPIRED SLAW.

Traditionally, I am a fan of vinegar and oil based Italian salad dressing. Yet, since going to plant based eating I find that I eat one or two salads a day and have worked hard to add variety into my salads. The first jar salad that I will share would be my “go to” favorite when making a salad from a buffet.

CLASSIC SALAD BAR IN A JAR

The amount of each ingredient depends on the size of your jar. Since I follow the Weight Watchers 360 plan, I eyeballed all the 0 Points Plus ingredients and measured out the other additions.

1. 2 Tablespoons of my homemade plant-based Tangy Ranch Dressing.
2. Cucumbers
3. Grape tomatoes
4. Banana peppers
5. Peas (I used 1/4 cup)
6. Carrot sticks
7. Celery sticks
8. Sunflower seeds (I used 1/4 cup)
9. Alfalfa sprouts
10. Romaine lettuce (I buy heads of romaine instead of packaged. I find the heads are more fresh, leafy, and not as bitter)

Since my cucumbers were not organic, I scrubbed well and peeled.

Since my cucumbers were not organic, I scrubbed well and peeled.

I find that cherry or grape tomatoes hold their shape better and do not get as runny in the jars as larger tomatoes.

I find that cherry or grape tomatoes hold their shape better and do not get as runny in the jars as larger tomatoes.

Banana peppers impart a lot of flavor to salads. I also LOVE them on pizza.

Banana peppers impart a lot of flavor to salads. I also LOVE them on pizza.

I am not a huge fan of peas unless they are fresh out of the garden. However, I do enjoy the texture of peas in a salad.

I am not a huge fan of peas unless they are fresh out of the garden. However, I do enjoy the texture of peas in a salad.

They always have carrot sticks on a salad bar so I thought I would leave the carrots in larger pieces.

They always have carrot sticks on a salad bar so I thought I would leave the carrots in larger pieces.

There is nothing like the satisfying crunch of celery!

There is nothing like the satisfying crunch of celery!

Sunflower seeds. Need I say more?

Sunflower seeds. Need I say more?

Sprouts are so fresh and delicious. Bean sprouts also make a wonderful addition to jarred salads.

Sprouts are so fresh and delicious. Bean sprouts also make a wonderful addition to jarred salads.

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. :) Yet, that is fine with me!

Sometimes when I get to the top there is not much room for lettuce. 🙂 Yet, that is fine with me!

Lovely layered salads.

Lovely layered salads.

Classic Salad Bar in a Jar

While the Classic Salad Bar in a Jar was delicious. I must say, that the WALDORF INSPIRED SLAW was phenomenal. In fact, one day I had one for lunch AND dinner.

I used the following ingredients:

To make the dressing:
3 Tablespoons of plant-based Mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise) but your favorite brand will do. I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of raw apple cider. Salt and pepper to taste. Many Waldorf Salad Dressings call for sugar but I did not add any since I like mine tangy. Plus, I found that the fruit that I added to salad imparted just the right amount of sweetness.

1. I added three Tablespoons of the dressing to the bottom of the jar.
2. Chopped celery
2. Green cabbage
3. Red/purple cabbage
*Note ~ The second time I made this jarred salad I tossed the cabbage in the dressing and celery first . I liked the way it marinated and thought it was more flavorful this way.
4. A few thin slices of red onion
5. Granny Smith apple slices
6. Red apple slices (your favorite variety)
(since I used organic apples I left the peels on the apples. Incidentally, I did not add any lemon juice to the apples and they stayed fresh and did not brown)
7. Two Tablespoons of raisins
8. 1/4 cup of raw almonds (most Waldorf recipes call for walnuts but I had almonds on hand)
9. Red grapes (I had to run to the store to get grapes after I made the salads. I sliced the grapes in 1/2 and added to the top).
Waldorf Inspired Slaw

I am making Waldorf Inspired Slaw in jars again this week. Yes, they are really that terrific! :)

I am making Waldorf Inspired Slaw in jars again this week. Yes, they are really that terrific! 🙂

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

Update: December 8, 2013
Today I made the Waldorf Inspired Slaw but instead of grapes I added pomegranates since they are in season.
Waldorf Inspired Slaw with PomegranateI hope that my post helped answer a few questions about Mason Jar Salads and inspired garden fresh eating for you and your family. You will find more recipes under the salad tab at the top of the page. Please feel free to share some of your favorite salad jar combinations in the comment section or on my Facebook page. Here is a link to these recipes on Pinterest. I am up to 244 likes and would love to see more health minded and creative individuals join the conversation. Please recommend my blog to your friends and family.

After experimenting with Mason Jar Salads you might find yourself adding an extra row of lettuce to your garden this summer. I know that I am eagerly awaiting getting my garden in the ground. I have been told that in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the second week of June will be the time to get the tomatoes and other plants in the ground. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and productive week!