By Victoria Osborn, Contributing Writer
One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh, delicious produce available in the grocery store or farmer’s market. It’s bright, colorful, flavorful and packed with nutrition. I love to stock up and pack most of my summer meals with fresh fruit and vegetables to make “lighter” meals to end the warm and lazy days of summer.
Somehow I have been blessed with two little ones who not only eat their vegetables, they love them! In fact 9 times out of 10, when giving them a snack choice, they make a healthy choice. I can’t complain, in fact it makes me think twice about the snack choice I’m making for myself!
Since my kids are both vegetable lovers, I am free to plan meals around a variety of fresh and in season produce. One of the ways I always get another serving of vegetables in is by serving a salad alongside with dinner. I also like to make big salads for myself for lunch.
I build the salad with whatever lettuce is plentiful along with some power greens, either spinach or kale, followed by tons of delicious add-ins to make the salad as colorful as possible. Currently my kids love eating grape tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers. My husband and I also love purple onions, radishes and celery. To make it a complete meal I might top it with sliced almonds, fresh berries, raisins or shredded chicken.
Strolling through the farmer’s market will tell you what vegetables are in season, so whenever I go I load up on a variety to not only make fresh, seasonal salads but also to serve as snacks or to roast and cook for dinner sides.
While the salad itself can be very nutritious, I love adding a little bit of dressing on top to give it even more flavor. The problem is most store bought dressings are loaded with sugar, soy and other questionable ingredients I can’t even pronounce. So I have started to make my own.
Contrary to popular opinion, making your own salad dressing is simple and a frugal alternative to the store bought variety.
Plus since you are making it, you know exactly what it is in it avoiding unhealthy ingredients you wouldn’t want to serve your family. I can easily whip up these dressings in no time for quick salad prep, in fact I often include the kids because what little one doesn’t love to shake things? Just make sure the lid is tightly sealed (ask me how I know!)
Today I wanted to share with you 3 family favorite, homemade salad dressing recipes that pair well with your favorite salad toppings and are tasty enough to please a crowd!
3 Family Favorite Homemade Salad Dressings
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- dash of salt and pepper
Mix the ingredients above in a small bowl or glass jar with a lid, and pour over the salad. This also makes a super simple and tasty marinade for chicken.
Easy Italian Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- dash of salt and pepper
Combine the oil and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in the dried spices and mix well and transfer to a cruet or clear glass jar with a tight fitting lid. This dressing can be stored in the refrigerator but due to the oil solidifying, it will need to come to room temperature by sitting out on the counter for about 30 minutes before use or being placed under warm running water. This also makes a delicious marinade for chicken and steak.
Simple, 3 Ingredient Blue Cheese Dressing
My favorite dressings are those that are oil and vinegar based but my husband loves a good tangy and creamy blue cheese dressing. This one is his personal favorite dressing, plus it couldn’t be any easier to make!
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
- Dash of black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and the pepper. Fold in the blue cheese crumbles and transfer to a cruet or glass jar with a lid. This will store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Another dressing variety we love is this Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing. It tastes just as delicious and creamy as a traditional Caesar dressing yet it’s light and perfect for summer since it’s an oil based dressing. Since it’s dairy free, it makes a great side for outdoor cookouts and picnics.
All three of these dressing recipes are my standard, go-to dressings that whip up in seconds and make a delicious, vegetable loaded salad even tastier.