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A simply delicious, lighter salad dressing.

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

When I went completely WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) salad dressing was a concern. I'd made my own vinaigrette dressings - in the classic French tradition - for years. Bottled dressings were far too loaded with, well, c**p. Ingredients that neither Michael Pollan or my grandmother would recognize. Simple vinaigrettes are so simple: Acid (vinegar), sweetener (honey, sugar, maple syrup), Dijon mustard to thicken, and some oil. There's the problem.

Oil. It's highly refined, and therefore not a 'whole food'. Striped of its' beneficial fiber (olives, for example) and nutrients, it adds calories and not much else. Even the much touted olive oil isn't actually good for you. In fact, while I was completing the Rouxbe Forks Over Knives plant-based culinary course, I remarked to my instructor that by not using oil, my dishes seemed to have much more vibrant, brighter flavors. He replied: "Now you get it!" So, how can you craft a salad dressing that is both delicious, healthy and in keeping with the WFPBNO lifestyle?

I've been making a number of plant-based, no oil salad dressings - creamy ones. They aren't particularly difficult, but are a bit fussier. And, heavier. I was looking for something closer to my lighter, old school vinaigrette. This sweetened, seasoned white balsamic vinegar fills all the squares.

I've been using this reasonably priced Colavita White Balsamic vinegar for several years now. I really like it for it's milder flavor that works so well with all manner of salads. When I see it on sale, I'll buy three or four bottles. It's not like vinegar is going to go 'bad'.

Here's what you do:

In a deep pot, combine roughly equal amounts of vinegar and sweetener. Yes, sigh, I use white sugar. So, sue me. Remember Paracelsus' admonition about "the dose makes the poison." Bring it to a boil, stir the sugar to dissolve, and reduce to low, allowing the liquid to reduce by about ¼ to ⅓. Now, add the seasonings that you like.

I add:

Granulated onion or shallots

Or, you can use a blend such as the Parisian Shallot Herb Blend or the Lakeshore Drive Seasoning blend.

Add some salt and freshly ground pepper. I like to add freshly ground green peppercorns. That's just me. Also, mine is a slightly darker color than it would have been since I added a couple splashes of Arvum Arrope Saba Syrup grape must reduction. A bottle of this goes a long way. You just use a drizzle here, or a splash there. But, the flavor is very special - sweet and tart, rich and almost savory.

Taste! Adjust the balance of sweet and tart for your palate. Let the liquid cool a bit, and pour it into a sturdy bottle. Cap it, and store in your pantry. This is great over all manner of fruits and vegetables .... even cooked vegetables like 'greens'. Oh, and you can experiment with red wine vinegars also.

Be my guest and toss your next salad in this simple vinegar preparation and you'll never look back.

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