If you asked my preschooler, she would say my favorite food is salad. This observation, while surprising, is at least partially true. She sees me eat leafy greens more often than anything else, but that doesn’t make it my favorite food. In fact, every fall season, I have to get creative to stick with my salad-a-day commitment. I switch up my mixes, try different toppings, and I even concoct my own salad dressing recipes to further customize this culinary staple.
Today I’ll share my four favorite homemade salad dressing recipes so you can keep your healthy commitments going throughout fall.
Carrot with Merit
Make the most of your late-season carrot harvest with colorful DIY fall salads that pack in the beta-carotene. My favorite cuisine is Asian, so this gingery dressing scores a win with me every time.
The ingredients to gather are:
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
- ½ lb. chopped carrots, lightly steamed and cooled
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1½ tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce (I use gluten-free)
- 2/3 cup avocado oil
To make, lightly toast your sesame seeds on a preheated skillet for about one minute.
Watch them carefully, and when the first one pops up, remove them from the heat and set aside. Next, add all other ingredients to a food processor, and give it a whirl.
Don’t get discouraged if after a minute you still see a few carrot or ginger fibers. They add a texture your taste buds will enjoy. Once blended, pour your mixture into a glass bowl, cover with a lid, and chill it in the fridge.
When serving a salad, add this dressing last and garnish the whole dish with the toasted sesame seeds.
Local Apple Cider
Our local orchards are overflowing with juicy apples through late summer, and without fail, the raw apple cider variations appear on the scene weeks later, along with apple cider vinegar. As you visit your fall farmers’ market, make a point of finding your local apple cider producer for both cider and vinegar. While you’re there, snag some raw local honey, too. These three ingredients make the base of one of the sweetest salad dressing recipes you can imagine.
To start, grab:
- 2 cups fresh, local apple cider
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1½ tbsp. raw clover honey
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. unrefined sea salt
- ¾ cup refined coconut oil
To make this salad dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse on low. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge. Use within six days.
Little Local Italy
This zingy salad dressing is my favorite way to use autumn’s sweetest herb: fresh basil. Basil has a reputation for being the hardy herb, but as soon as those temperatures dip, the sweet plants are gone. I always bring my container basil inside and set it on a windowsill to prolong its life well into winter. My favorite thing about this habit is its new proximity to the kitchen—I can grab a few sprigs more often now!
This recipe couldn’t be easier and features my favorite potted herb.
For your salad:
- 1 bag mixed salad
- 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
- 2 handfuls mozzarella
For your dressing:
- 1 avocado
- 2 tbsp. basil pesto
- 4 tbsp. avocado oil
- Juice from half a fresh-squeezed lemon
- Salt and pepper
To make the dressing, throw all the ingredients into a food processor and mix until smooth. Your end result will be a bit goopy, so toss it with your leafy greens and tomatoes and garnish with fresh mozzarella balls.
Pumpkin Spice Haute
Get fashionably high-class with this haute salad dressing recipe. It features pumpkin seed oil, which according to the National Institutes of Health, has anti-inflammatory properties and could help prevent liver disease. Sign me up!
What you’ll need:
- ½ cup virgin (unrefined) pumpkin seed oil
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. local maple syrup
- ½ cup dried cranberries
To craft this artisanal product, just combine the ingredients in a mason jar, top it, and give the container a good shake. Store unused dressing in the fridge for up to four days, shaking before each use.
A few years ago, I started to experiment with my own homemade salad dressing recipes to avoid unrecognizable ingredients, and these are the four that have stuck around. You don’t need to be a chef to try your hand at DIY dressings. Mix and match, and when you concoct your own original, be sure to share it with us on Twitter!
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.