I grew up eating really, really delicious salad. Any salad my Mom makes is always a hit. My cousins, who grew up not loving salad, would always eat Aunt Betsy’s salad. We all seemed to think it was really tough to recreate her salad, as it was just SO good, but as I got older she taught me her tricks, and alas, anyone can make a salad like Betsy!
We can probably all agree that salad dressing can make or break a salad. After all, it’s what gives a good salad that perfect balance of flavor. Growing up we were hooked on Newman’s Italian dressing, and I know many families have a staple go-to salad dressing they often use. However, as we’ve learned the benefits of cold pressed, organic extra virgin olive oil, salad dressing seemed like a great way to work more of it into our diet. My Mom makes a batch once every week or so, using an old glass jar or a mason jar, and then she has it for her salad all week. We’ve gotten into the same habit, and because we don’t have to make a batch every time we want to eat a salad, we are that much more likely to whip up a quick salad and not wish we had a store bought (less healthy) version. Store bought dressings are full of refined and highly processed oils, thickeners, refined salt, often sugars and other “flavors”. Even if they have the words organic or natural on the label, it doesn’t mean they are healthy!
What makes a tasty and healthful salad?
An olive oil and vinegar based, homemade dressing.
Cold, organic mixed greens. We love the Olivia’s Organic Spring Mix.
Dressing the greens BEFORE putting the “toppings” on. I think this is Betsy’s best salad hack - she puts the greens in the salad bowl and just before it’s time to serve, she tosses with just the right amount of dressing (you can always add more, but if your pour is too heavy, you can’t take it back) and then adds the toppings.
Don’t dress the salad more than 5 minutes ahead of time. Adding the dressing too early wilts the greens and therefore there’s not as much crunch.
Some interesting combinations we love for salad toppings:
Roasted butternut squash, roasted beets, pomegranate seeds, goat or blue cheese, bacon and walnuts or pecans (pictured).
Roasted beets, blue cheese and pecans or walnuts. This one is my all time favorite!
Pear or apple, goat cheese, caramelized onions and dried cranberries.
Watermelon radish, carrot, celery, goat cheese. Super simple, but really yummy. Plenty of crunch in this one!
Avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, sunflower seeds, carrot and goat cheese.
This dressing recipe is a family favorite! It’s an adapted recipe from my Aunt Jane...who is a seasoned salad creator herself!
A Spin on Jane’s Famous Dressing
Makes 1 ½ cups of dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar (or Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp. Sea salt
½ tsp. Ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a glass mason jar.
Tightly screw on the top. Shake well for about 30 seconds.
Pour on salad and enjoy!
Note: We use this dressing for a week or two and don’t store it in the fridge. The only refrigerated ingredient in the dressing is the mustard, and I figure the vinegar preserves it. Feel free to store in the fridge, but the olive oil will solidify and you’ll need to soak in a warm water bath or take it out of the fridge about an hour before serving.