Embrace the Old-Fashioned with Two Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette Recipes: Basil & Mint

“We are asleep with compasses in our hands. ”
― W.S. Merwin

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A couple of years ago, when my niece Kristine was in high school, she gave a demonstration speech on how to can dill pickles. After her presentation, when she told me that there were students in her class that did not know that pickles were once cucumbers, I was shocked. Really? How could this happen in a rural community where vegetable gardens commonly sprout in backyards? I guess that I took it for granted that others grew up in a household similar to the one in which I was raised. Pre-bread machines my mom always made homemade bread, cake and frosting were whipped up from scratch, macaroni-and-cheese did not come out of a box, and on a weekly basis stock pots of aromatic soup simmered on the stove. Did we eat junk food and drink soda? Yes. Yet, my mom always made sure our diet was balanced out by home cooked meals and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Even when we spent long, summer days at the beach the slow-cooker was preparing some sort of wholesome, savory dish. Fast food did not exist in our hometown (aside from the seasonal drive-in restaurant) and take-out and dinners at restaurants were rare and special indulgences.

Granted, times have changed, but I think that in some ways we need to go back to the way things were in the past. My mom grew up in a large Finnish-American family with six other siblings, and because finances were lean, they had to learn how to be resourceful. I am thankful that Mom passed this resourcefulness on to me. In October of 2010, I wrote more about the lessons that my mom has instilled in me. Here is the piece that I wrote on the educational blog that I share with my best friend Heather Hollands, called Blended Voices.

The next time you are in line at the supermarket, reflect on the choices in your cart (and even other shoppers around you). It is common to hear (and participate) in conversations about how expensive groceries are these days. Yet, when you take a look at what is tossed into grocery carts there often are cheaper alternatives. Think of how many raw potatoes can be purchased for the price of a bag of potato chips. How many bags of dried beans can be purchased for the cost of canned? Compare the cost of individually packaged instant oatmeal versus a tub of old-fashioned oats. While they may be expensive, how many cherries or grapes could a twelve pack of soda purchase?

While I try to keep my grocery cart limited to whole foods, I do confess to occasional convenience food purchases. Though, I try to be more mindful of making our favorite meals by scratch, because not only is it more economical, but more nutritional as well. Plus, I like to believe that when I stretch my grocery dollar I can afford to put more organic fruit and vegetables on our table.

As I have shared in previous posts, not only are some convenience foods easy to make, but cooking from scratch helps us avoid putting chemicals into our bodies. The next time you pick up a can of soup carefully scan the ingredients. How about salad dressing? Can you pronounce the long list of additives and preservatives? If not, you might want to think about making your own. The base of vinaigrette dressings are simple: vinegar and oil and spices. For creamy dressings I add a base of raw nuts or plant-based sour cream or mayonnaise (if you eat dairy you can use mayo, Greek yogurt, or sour cream). The beauty of making your own dressing is that you can tailor them to suit your taste buds. My husband Mike and I  tend to like tangy dressings, so my vinaigrettes are heavy on vinegar and citrus juice.

Since it is summer and berries are ripe, and my garden is brimming with fresh herbs, I thought that a perfect recipe to share would be a berry vinaigrette. I choose raspberries but you could easily swap out strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, pears, plums, or peaches. In the winter frozen berries and dried herbs would work well too.

Berry vinaigrettes tend to be of the sweeter dressing variety, but instead of refined sugar I sweetened these dressings with freshly squeezed orange. (Since oranges are not in season and hard to find in some stores you could easily add mango, pineapple, peach, or another sweet fruit to the blender.)
Raspberry Basil Vinaigrette: Dijon Mustard, Orange Juice, Onion, Raspberries, Basil, White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Chives, and Salt & Pepper.

Raspberry Basil Vinaigrette: Dijon Mustard, Orange Juice, Onion, Raspberries, Basil, White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Chives, Garlic, and Salt & Pepper.

107RASPBERRY BASIL VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/2-1 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar (or vinegar of choice. Add in a little at a time and taste test so you can monitor the level of desired tartness)
  • 1/2 Cup Raspberries (or your berry or fruit of choice)
  • 1/2 Cup of Basil (if you are not a fan of basil you could use your favorite herb)
  • 1/8-1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you could also add more. To keep the dressing more friendly on the waist-line I often keep the oil to a minimum and add the desired portion of oil directly to the salad)
  • Juice and Zest of 1/2 an Orange (Orange juice will give the berry vinaigrette a desired sweetness without adding refined sugar)117
  • 1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard (I used spicy brown mustard because that is what I had on hand)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives (I have chives in my garden so I add them to all my dressings in the summer)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste (or you can leave out and season the salad)

Blend well. You can chop and mix with a whisk, but I find that a blender is so easy and makes a smooth dressing.

My salad combination: Avocado, shredded carrots, radish, white beans, Greek olives, tomato, pickled beets, cucumbers, raw nuts, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

My salad combination: Avocado, shredded carrots, radish, white beans, Greek olives, tomato, pickled beets, cucumbers, raw nuts, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

As delicious as it is pretty.

As delicious as it is pretty. I love the nutritional boost that chia seeds give to a salad.

The next version of raspberry vinaigrette includes fresh mint. I love mint with both sweet and savory dishes and I wanted a dressing that would work with both. I was thinking that this would be a great dressing for a fruit salad (but I would use it on vegetables as well). This version is a little less savory because it leaves out the garlic and onion.

Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette: Raspberries, Mint, White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Juice of 1/2 a Lemon, Juice of 1/2 an Orange, Chives, and Salt and Pepper.

Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette: Raspberries, Mint, White Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Juice of 1/2 a Lemon, Juice of 1/2 an Orange, Chives, and Salt and Pepper.

104RASPBERRY MINT VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/2-1 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar (or vinegar of choice. Add in a little at a time and taste test so you can monitor the level of desired tartness)
  • 1/2 Cup Raspberries (or your berry or fruit of choice)
  • 1/2 Cup of Mint (mint is perennial and will come up in you garden year-after-year)
  • 1/8-1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you could also add more. To keep the dressing more friendly on the waist-line I often keep the oil to a minimum and add the desired portion of oil directly to the salad)
  • Juice and Zest of 1/2 an Orange (Orange juice 108will give the berry vinaigrette a desired sweetness without adding refined sugar)
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Chives (I have chives in my garden so I add them to all my dressings in the summer)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste (or you can leave out and season the salad)Blend well and serve on your favorite salad combination.
My salad: Spinach, Avocado, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries.

My salad: Spinach, Avocado, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries.

The raspberries and mint make a bright and refreshing combination.

The raspberries and mint make a bright and refreshing combination.

Do not forget to add a couple candles and set a pretty table.

Do not forget to add a couple candles and set a pretty table. Poetry does make food taste better!

I had both of the salads featured in this post yesterday and made another one today for lunch. I am excited to try the recipe with different berries and I think it is going to be a staple in our house. Since I have a lot of basil and mint in my garden I will make sure to freeze some to use in dressings this winter.

Today as I prepared to write this post I could not help thinking about the generations before us that did not have access to convenience foods and had to make the most of what they had on hand. I think that things are changing, and as an American nation, we are starting to become more careful label readers. I always tell my students that their generation has the capacity to be wiser than my generation has been about food choices. Their generation understands the importance of recycling and taking advantage of what we have. I often tell them that one of my favorite hobbies is to go thrift-store shopping for vintage items. In fact, this is how I spent my time  this afternoon. 

Today’s thrift-store treasure came in the form of delicate, etched, vintage glasses. If we had a larger house (and if I loved to dust) I would have hundreds of these little beauties. 11I would not want a complete set either, because I love the variety of patterns and shapes they come in. I could easily be a vintage glass hoarder (especially at 25 cents each).119

These glasses are a great reminder of how much our portion sizes have changed. Not only are they beautiful, but they are so much smaller than the gargantuan goblets that are purchased in modern times.

I like to think of food in the same old-fashioned way that I appreciate 13vintage pieces and I will continue to strive to eat whole foods and make the extra time to takes to prepare meals that are nutritionally sound and fuel my body.

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Roses from our garden.

If you have found your way to my blog, I imagine that we share the same philosophy and I thank you for sharing this journey. For more salad dressing recipes you can check out the Dressing Tab. You can follow my board on Pinterest and join the conversation on my Produce with Amy Facebook page.

I do tend to be old-fashioned about many things. I would wear a dress over jeans any day, I love the word ice-box, and I believe in setting a beautiful table. I believe that food made with love, and attention to detail, tastes better.

This week, or weekend, I challenge you to do something to make your dining experience more enjoyable. Float some flowers in a vintage glass bowl, use your Grandmothers doilies as a table runner, or make your salad look like a piece of art. Find, create, and appreciate beauty and your life, and the lives of those around you, will be richer.

Raspberry Basil Vinaigrette

Click on image for a larger version.

Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette

Click on image for a larger version.

While I do not want to rush summer, this fall I look forward to going to my hometown of Crystal Falls to can pickles with my mom and Kristine. Do you know where the food on your table came from? How about starting with some homemade dressing. I promise, you will be hooked and may never buy bottled dressing again.

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Creamy Cucumber & Dill Dressing ~ Homemade & Plant-Based

95“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 
― Henry James

I am so thankful for a relaxing Independence Day weekend. Mike and I basked in the glow of family, friends, laughter, and sunshine. We spent many hours on the water and were sad to see the weekend come to an end.

Even though I had the best of intentions, I ended up overdoing it on chips, picnic food, and beverages. The heat and sodium really impacts my body so the past couple of days I have been making sure that I am staying hydrated with plenty of water, fruit, and vegetables.

Did you know that cucumbers contain properties that help bring down water retention? Not only are cucumbers comprised of over 90% water but they are also great for our skin and joints because they contain the vitamins A, B, and C and the minerals potassium, magnesium, and silica. Cucumbers aid in digestion and are such a crisp and nourishing addition to salads. Yesterday, while gathering groceries, I added six large cucumbers to my shopping cart (sadly the cucumbers that I planted a long way off from harvesting). This morning I woke up craving cucumbers, so for breakfast I had a salad with cucumbers, romaine, red leaf lettuce, tomato, green bell pepper, avocado, and topped with a plant-based Creamy Cucumber and Dill Dressing that I whipped up. It was  fresh and delicious and really hit the spot after an indulgent weekend. Cucumber and dill make the perfect combination and this recipe will be fantastic with summer’s abundance of crisp cucumbers in the supermarket, the farmers market, and if you are lucky ~ in your garden.

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CREAMY CUCUMBER & DILL DRESSING

  • 1 large cucumber with seeds removed (2 cups. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds)13
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (If you consume dairy you could swap this out for plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup of raw nuts of choice (I used a mix that included cashews, almonds, macadamia, and walnuts) The nuts help give the dressing body and thickness without using the chemicals and additives found in store-bought dressings.
  • 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice (I would recommend lemon but I used lime since that is what I had on hand)
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar (any vinegar would work but rice vinegar tends to be more mild)
  • 1 Tablespoon onion
  • 1 clove garlic (1/2 if is is a large clove)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (dried would work and I would suggest adding a bit at a time and taste test)14
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional ~ sprig of fresh mint and chives (I add to everything in the summer since I have both in my garden. Mint works well with cucumber)

Blend well and chill in a jar or cruet.  I recommend serving the dressing cold.

This recipe makes 2 cups so if you do not eat salads often, you might want to make half of the recipe.

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts t from Target.

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts t from Target.

This dressing will keep for up to a week or longer (because of the vinegar and citrus)  in the refrigerator.

It tends to thicken while stored so you might want to thin it out with a bit of water or more vinegar or citrus juice.

I did not add any oil to the dressing. When I dressed my salad this morning I measured out 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil so I could get exactly the serving of oil that I desired.

I always make sure to plant fresh herbs in the summer. Mint and chives are perennials and will come back each year.

I always make sure to plant fresh herbs in the summer. Mint and chives are perennials and will come back each year. Mint can be invasive so you might want to plant it in a pot and bury in the ground. I do not mind it flourishing and have ours planted in a corner flower bed.

I love the cucumber dressing on top of sliced cucumbers. What a perfect summer salad.

I love the cucumber dressing on top of sliced cucumbers. What a perfect summer salad.

This was my breakfast. In the summer I  love starting my day with something light and refreshing.

This was my breakfast. In the summer I love starting my day with something light and refreshing.

Homemade dressing ~ free of additives.

Homemade dressing ~ free of additives.

If you are interested in other homemade plant-based dressings, here are some that I featured in previous posts:

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Orange Dill Vinaigrette

Tangy Ranch and Zesty Avocado

In this post, I use homemade hummus and my twist on tabouli for salad dressing: Israeli Feast

These salad dressing recipes and recipes from other posts can be found at my Produce with Amy Pinterest board.

I hope you enjoy the Creamy Cucumber and Dill Dressing as much as I do.  It would make a great dip for vegetables and it is similar to Greek tzatziki sauce and would be terrific on a sandwich or wrap.

It is a perfect taste of summer and a great way for us to fill our  plate with this season’s freshest produce. July is here for us to savor and appreciate and choosing healthy foods will give us the energy and stamina we need to stay active and productive. Have a great week!

Creamy Cucumber and Dill Dressing

Click on image for a larger version

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing

12Cilantro is an annual member of the carrot family that has been grown for thousands of years. It is popular in South American, Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes. The leaves are used as seasonings in salsas, guacamole, grain salads. The seed is called coriander. Unripened, it has a citrusy flavor and can be used like fennel as a breath freshener, or as a flavoring for fish dishes. The ripened coriander is milder and is used in pickles, curries, bakery, sorbet, etc. The root is also added to curries, and the stems to bean dishes. The oil from the seed is used in perfumes, toothpastes, liquors and massage oils.
~ How To Garden Advice .Com

Cilantro tends to be a herb that people either love or hate. Personally, I love the bright green flavor that cilantro brings to meals and I add it to salsa, salads, guacamole, garnish soups, and I even enjoy it blended into my green smoothies.11

One of my goals this summer was to come up with recipes for salad dressings. Homemade vinaigrette is simple to throw together, composed of common staples, and is free of additives and preservatives. Also, in the summer I have easy access to fresh herbs outside in my container garden. My Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing was a hit so I thought that I would experiment with cilantro.

When it comes to salad dressing I tend to really like it to be tangy. On the rare occasion when I purchase bottled dressing I cut half of the bottle with lemon and vinegar. Therefore, if you do not prefer your dressing on the tart side, you may want to make some adjustments to my recipe. I used raw apple cider vinegar in the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette that I made today. I find that raw apple cider vinegar does have quite a sharp taste to it so if you want a dressing with less tang you could use a milder vinegar. Rice vinegar tends to be less acidic and balsamic vinegar is much sweeter (if you use an aged balsamic vinegar you might want to use some water to thin it a bit. White balsamic vinegar is also a great choice). I keep the oil to a minimum in my vinaigrette to keep it waist line friendly and you could add extra oil to make the vinegar less pungent. The addition of sugar or Stevia would also balance out the tangy vinegar. Taste as you blend the dressing (I like to use pieces of celery to dip in the blender) and tweak and satisfy your taste buds.

If you want a creamy dressing you can take a serving of the Cilantro Lime Dressing and mix it with a Tablespoon or two of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt. I tried this method with Vegan sour cream, added a dash of hot sauce, and served it over cold black beans and tomatoes for dinner and thought it provided a fantastic taste explosion.

Olive oil, lime, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion.

Olive oil, lime, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion.

CILANTRO LIME VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 141/2-1 cup of vinegar of choice (add a little at a time and taste as you go to decide how much vinegar your tastebuds enjoy)
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like spice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

VitamixBlend ingredients well and pour into a shakeable cruet or jar in the refrigerator. Your vinaigrette should keep for several weeks (if it lasts that long).

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This afternoon for lunch I had the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette on a taco salad that had black beans, homemade salsa and guacamole, and spicy brown rice. It was very satisfying and 16the salad was so huge I could not finish it all so I wrapped a portion and put it in the refrigerator. Tonight when I ate the salad I found that the flavors had mingled well and I cannot wait to have the dressing again tomorrow.

Not only would it make a great dressing for green salads but this summer dressing would be great drizzled over roasted or grilled vegetables, to dress corn and tomato salad, to flavor black beans, sprinkled over tacos, and even as a flavor enhancement for fresh salsa and guacamole.

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If you are interested in other salad dressing recipes, previously I posted my two recipes for plant-based Tangy Ranch and Zesty Avocado. You can find this and other recipes on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing. Please leave a comment and join the conversation by “liking” my Produce with Amy Facebook group. Recipe reviews are always appreciated and it is helpful for me to learn what recipes people are interested in. 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, summer herb gardens, and thriving!

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version.

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


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!