The Best Salad Dressing is a Vinaigrette
I grew up with one version of salad dressing: vinaigrette.
My family ate green salads often. Make that very often. The greens varied (hearts of Romaine, mesclun, bib lettuce, butter lettuce, arugula, red leaf, you name it). But the dressing was constant: 3 parts virgin olive oil, 1 part vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. It’s perfect, and, creature of habit that I am, it’s still my preferred way to eat salad.
Habits are hard to break, so I opt to bend instead. For example, by making a newfangled, nourishing vinaigrette that simultaneously thrills my taste buds: my Creamy Cashew Salad Dressing (an oil-free vinaigrette).
How to Make Salad Dressing without Oil
My bendy compromise is a velvety, creamy, oil-free vinaigrette. No magic required, just a blender. And some raw cashews.
You may have tried one or more bottled, oil-free salad dressings. They taste like despair. Or perhaps you sprinkled your greens with plain vinegar for an aseptic jolt. Life is too short for either option.
Instead, give my delectable dressing a go. Blended raw cashews make a luscious cream (for use in everything from chocolate truffles to alfredo sauce). Thin the cream, add some traditional flavorings and you have the makings of a creamy vinaigrette, ideal for any and all lettuces.
It’s so creamy and lush, you would swear it has oil, mayonnaise or cream of some sort, but it’s all the result of humble cashews.
Ingredients for Creamy Cashew Salad Dressing
In addition to raw cashews, you will need the following:
- Vinegar (you pick: red wine, white wine, balsamic, sherry, apple cider, etc).
- Dijon mustard
- Seasonings (salt, pepper, dried herbs, an optional touch of sweetener)
How to Make the Salad Dressing
Step One: Soak the Cashew in Boiling Water
Place the cashews in a bowl. Add enough boiling water to the bowl to cover the cashews. Soak 10 minutes and then drain the cashews.
Step Two: Blend the Ingredients
Place the drained cashews and the remaining ingredients in a blender (high-speed, if you have one).
Blend until completely smooth. I recommend stopping once of twice to scrape the sides of the container for any stray bits.
Step Three: Adjust Seasonings
Taste the dressing and adjust any of the seasonings (more vinegar? more salt? Another clove of garlic?), and blend again, as needed.
Step Four: Refrigerate to Thicken the Dressing
The dressing will seem thin immediately after blending. Fear not, it is not quite finished.
The last step is to chill the dressing. Give it at least 2 hours, and then give a brief re-shake or whisk, as needed. It will have a thickness in between a classic oil-based vinaigrette and Ranch dressing.
How to Use the Dressing
Use the dressing on any and all of your favorite salads in the days and weeks to come. It coats lettuce like a dream, but don’t stop there. It’s wonderful on potato salads, slaws, chopped vegetable salads, and drizzled over grilled vegetables.
Like any vinaigrette, you can adjust the flavorings as much as you like. For example, different dried or fresh herbs, lemon or lime juice in place of all or part of the vinegar, spices, additional sweetness (e.g., for slaws), and more.
Happy blending, everyone!
More Delicious Cashew Recipes:
- Strawberry Cashew Smoothie
- Easy Cashew Mayonnaise (4 ingredients)
- Easy Cashew Cheddar Cheese (oil-free)
- Cashew Boursin Cheese
- Easy Cashew Cream Cheese