Summer, All Dressed Up

Post by Paula Jahn, Dietitian and Co-owner of Nourish Northwest

Summer is a time when I do a lot less cooking and a lot more “assembling,” aka salad making. And I’m not the only one seeking salad inspiration: Substantial Salads is one of our most popular cooking classes. Unlike the produce of winter that needs to be peeled, scooped, chopped and cooked (butternut squash, anyone?), much of this season’s harvest can be shuttled straight from garden to mouth.

Naked vegetables

Fresh vegetables are so abundant this time of year; whether from your own garden, a friend’s surplus (zucchini, anyone?), or the farmers’ market, summer’s bounty needs little more than a good dressing. Many store-bought dressings contain added sugars, preservatives, sodium, and stabilizers. It’s simple and so much more delicious and healthy to make your own!

Dress it up!

The following recipes are some of my favorites. They range from creamy and luscious to sharp and vinegary.  Most of these dressings will keep one to two weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to add all the ingredients to a glass jar and shake the heck out of it. Enjoy!


Asian Poppy Seed

1 Tbs sesame oil or olive oil

2 Tbs toasted sesame oil

3 Tbs brown rice vinegar (or unseasoned rice vinegar)

2 tbsp brown rice syrup

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1⁄2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp poppy seeds


1. Whisk all ingredients together.

2. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.


Creamy Basil

(Adapted from Moosewood House Dressing)

1 cup olive oil

2 Tbs cider vinegar or 2 Tbs lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 cup spinach leaves, packed

1/4 cup basil leaves, loosely packed

2 tso Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp salt, to taste

black pepper

1 cup buttermilk


1. Puree all ingredients in blender or food processor, except buttermilk.

2. While the blender is still running, slowly add the buttermilk in a stream until dressing thickens.

3. Stop the blender when the dressing thickens or the oil may separate and the dressing will become thin.

4. This will store for about a week in the fridge; shake before use if it looks like it is separating.


Basic Vinaigrette 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbs or more good vinegar — wine, sherry, rice, balsamic, etc. OR lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 large shallot (about 2 Tbs), peeled and cut into chunks


1. Combine all ingredients but the shallot in a blender and blend until uniform. Taste and add more vinegar a teaspoon or two at a time, until it tastes right.

2. Add the shallot and pulse a few times. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.


Citrus Tahini Dressing

3 Tbs tahini

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbsp orange juice

1/4 tsp paprika

1-2 tsp honey

Salt and 
black pepper to taste


1. Whisk all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning.

2. If too thick, add more orange juice. Keeps in refrigerator for 2 weeks. Note: Dressing will thicken when cold. Bring to room temperature before serving.





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