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)
Place all of the ingredients in a blender (high-speed, if you have one) and add 1 and 1/3 cups of cold water.
Make the Salad Dressing
How’s this for easy? To make the dressing, blend until completely smooth. I recommend stopping once of twice to scrape the sides of the container for any stray bits.
Taste the dressing and adjust any of the seasonings (more vinegar? more salt? Another clove of garlic?), and blend again, as needed.
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.
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:Print
Love a good vinaigrette, but not the oil? If so, you will go nuts for my creamy cashew salad dressing. This oil-free vinaigrette takes about 2 minutes to make in your blender & keeps for weeks.
- 1 cup (150 g/ 5.3 oz) raw cashews
- 1 and 1/3 cups (325 mL) cold water
- 3 and 1/2 tablespoons (52 mL) vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Optional: 1 teaspoon sweetener (e.g., coconut sugar, maple syrup, cane sugar)
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Process on high until completely blended and smooth, stopping to scrape down the container once or twice (note: the dressing will be fairly thin at this point).
- Taste the dressing; adjust any of the seasonings to taste (e.g., salt, pepper, herbs, vinegar, garlic) and re-blend as needed.
- Pour the dressing into a jar or other container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to thicken.
- Shake the container, as needed, to remix the dressing.
Storage: Store the dressing in an airtight jar or other container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Vinegar Options: You can use the vinegar option you prefer. For example, apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.
- Category: Condiments
- Method: Blender
- Serving Size: 2 tablespoons (30 mL)
- Calories: 46.5
- Sugar: 0.5 g
- Sodium: 124 mg
- Fat: 3.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 2.1 g
- Fiber: 0.5 g
- Protein: 1.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: cashew, oil-free free, salad dressing, vinaigrette, vegan, healthy vinaigrette, oil-free salad dressing, salad, creamy