Lunch Salad Topped with Creamy Southwestern Chia Salad Dressing & a Crumbled Smoky Chipotle Black & White Bean Burger
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OK, I admit it! I'm not a Hugh Jass salad eater. Wondering what a Hugh Jass salad is? I'm slow on the uptake sometimes--& I had know clue who Hugh Jass was or why he had a salad named after him. That is, until I said his name out loud. Right! Were you as clueless as I was?
In retrospect, I think I avoided the Hugh Jass Salad because I didn't have a no-fat salad dressing that I really really loved. Something thick & creamy that didn't end up pooled on the bottom of my salad bowl.
Sure, making a salad dressing with nuts or tahini will give your salad dressing a creaminess. But, I wanted to avoid that route. And, I was tired of using just a too tart (albeit, tasty) vinegar as a dressing.
And, another thing... I really didn't want to fuss that much to solve the dressing problem. Who wants to pull out 5 different herbs, spices, or condiments, chop garlic, shallots, fresh herb--and then juice 2 lemons--measure them all--in order to make that dressing? Not me.
Then, as if by magic, in early February, the perfect salad dressing template just fell into my lap.
There's always a back story!
Presenting a New Salad Dressing Inspired by Susan Voisin and Ann Esselstyn.
I could bottle this one!
- First, I discovered Susan Voisin's Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing on February 4th--and posted on FB.
- I tested Susan's ranch dressing out on my kids when the Lab Rat & I visited them in St. Louis--but I gave mine a Greek spin with Penzey's Greek Seasoning, which has oregano, garlic, lemon peel, Telicherry black pepper, marjoram, & (shh!) salt. No need for all that measuring. I cut the milk down, so it would be thicker--and added fresh dill after it was all mixed up. Thick, creamy dressing that clung to the salad greens. Success. But, that wasn't the end of the story.
- I played around with the template of ingredients--and tried my hand at a Southwestern version--with lime juice, Southwestern spices (I used Penzey's Arizona Dreaming, with ground ancho chili, garlic, paprika, lemon peel, chipotle pepper, red pepper, jalapeno, cocoa, & natural smoke flavoring) and added my own fresh cilantro. Success, once more. My library taste-tasters gave it a thumbs up! Lab Rat even added it to some left-over pasta & gave it a thumbs up!
- I was excited. I told Ann Esselstyn about my new fave dressing, but I warned her, "You probably won't want to try this because it has a quarter of a cup of cashews in it. But, I'm going to play around with it. I think I can make it work without the cashews. And if I can do it--I'll send you the recipe. Full Disclosure: My original Southwestern Dressing with 2 teaspoons of Arizona Dreaming was way too spicy for her liking. She's going to try again with less spice. So modify, accordingly. Trust me--it's worth it!
- I went back to "my tiny kitchen lab" and cut out the cashews. Instead of cashews I upped the chia seed. It's such a perfect neutral-tasting thickener. I wanted a salad dressing with the "Esselstyn Seal-of-Approval"!
- It couldn't be simpler! You just mix soymilk, your choice of citrus juice/Asian sauce/vinegar, chia seeds, and the appropriate spices in a VitaMix or blender. Then you add fresh herbs, if you like. Thick, creamy dressing in minutes, with just enough for 6-8 gynormous salads. And you could load on the dressing if you like, because it's all good stuff. Stays fresh in the fridge for a week or maybe more, and it doesn't separate.
- I've since made an sweet spicy Asian version, using Dragunara Sweet Chili Sauce--and the possibilities are endless. I'm hoping you can try out some other versions in your own "Kitchen Labs", and share your successes.
- Salad Dressing Review: I passed the Southwestern Dressing on to a HHLL reader--and cook extraordinaire. She gave it a big thumbs up! She even took some to the Mexican restaurant she was going to--and topped her Esselstyn-approved meal of rice, black beans, & steamed veggies on a fresh corn tortilla with the Southwestern dressing. Here's what she said, "The dressing made the difference between just an OK dinner and a wonderful dinner. I loved the flavor!" And one of my library taste-tester's was licking her salad plate clean to get every last drop of the Creamy Greek dressing! And I was, too.
Chia By the Bulk--The Price is Right!
A One Pound Jar for $10.00 or a Six Pound Bag for $30.00+ Free Shipping
I'm starting to think that chia seed, "the super food" of the Tarahumara Indians, is really "manna from heaven". I sprinkle it on my oatmeal. Click here and here to read why I love this stuff! I mix it into thawed frozen berries to thicken them & mix in my yogurt. It's a perfect egg subsitute for baking. Love drinking "chia lemon water". And it makes an amazing "no cook" pudding.
Yes, it's pricier than flax, but the taste is so much better--because it has NO TASTE! And I love its texture.
TIP: I found chia in 2 pound bags at COSTCO for about $11.00 a package--near the cereals. Don't quote me on the price. And then Lab Rat found a 6 pound bag with free shipping for $30.00 through Amazon.
At that price, it's not that much more than flax seed--and there's no need for grinding or storing it in the refrigerator, like you have to do with flax.
The Greek Salad Topped with a Crumbled Lentil Dal Burger--Penzey's Greek Seasoning, Lemon Juice, & Dill
The Asian Sweet Chili Dressing with Baked Sweet Chili Tofu
The Southwestern Cilantro Lime Dressing
The Crazy Creamy Chia Salad Dressing Template
Makes 8 servings (2 tablespoons) But feel free to ladle it on. It's all made with healthy ingredients.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
For the recipe on one page, click here.
1. The milk base: 1 cup of plain unsweetened non-dairy milk. I use Eden Extra Soymilk because it's got a creamy texture, some fat in it, & it's enriched with needed vitamins & mineral.
2. The acid tang: 2 tablespoons of citrus juice, or Asian (I used Dragunara Sweet Chili) or other sauce, or vinegar Note: I used lime juice for the Southwestern dressing; lemon juice for the Greek dressing; and Dragunara Sweet Chili Sauce for the Asian dressing. Experiment with your own versions. I plan to try a peanut version with PB2; a teriyaki version with teriyaki sauce; an Indian version with chutney & curry; and a pesto dressing with fresh basil, garlic, nutritional yeast & a few walnuts. The possibilities are endless. You could probably decrease the milk, & increase the acid tang, if you like--as long as you keep the ratio: 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of liquid + 1 1/2 tablespoons of chia seed
3. The seasoning mix: Here's what I used--experiment!
- For the Greek dressing: 2 teaspoons of Penzey's Greek Seasoning oregano, garlic, lemon peel, Telicherry black pepper, marjoram, & (shh!) salt).
- For the Southwestern dressing. 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of Penzey's Arizona Dreaming. Be careful--it's spicy! (ground ancho chili, garlic, paprika, lemon peel, chipotle pepper, red pepper, jalapeno, cocoa, & natural smoke flavoring) There's no salt in this--add some if you like. I did.
- For the Asian Sweet Chili dressing (goes perfectly with Sweet Chili Baked tofu): No other spices needed, because the Dragunara sauce has it all!!
- TIP: Penzey's has lots of pre-mixed blends that make dressing-making easier. Lots of them are salt-free. If you buy them in bags, rather than jars the price is about half. Just saying...
4. The chia seeds: 1 1/2 Tablespoons (this is the secret of the salad dressing's success)
5. The add-ins: More room to experiment!
- I added one large fresh garlic clove cut-up for the Southwestern & the Greek--not for the Sweet Chili. Add-in possibilities could include capers, shallots, some olives, lemon, orange or lime zest, nutritional yeast, miso, mustard, a little maple syrup, whatever. You guys are all experienced cooks.
6. The fresh herbs: 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs mixed into the dressing, after it's been thoroughly blended, gives it a finishing touch--but it's not necessary.
- 2 TBS or more of fresh dill weed for the Greek dressing
- 2 TBS or more of fresh cilantro for the Southwestern dressing
Instructions: Mix the milk, the juices or sauces, the dry seasonings, the garlic, & chia in a VitaMix or blender on high until thoroughly blended. You will not notice the chia seed texture at all in the finished dressing. When done, scrape/pour into a container & mix in the chopped fresh herbs. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to thicken.
Stores well for a week or maybe more--and it's a small enough amount that you will definitely use it up.
Think about using it on pasta, too.
Nutitional Facts for a 2 Tablespoon serving of Southwestern Dressing:
The Healthy Librarian's
Southwestern Salad Dressing 2 TBS serving
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
More Kitchen Lab Experiments with Bickford Flavors
My New Flavor DIscovery. I asked one of the Penzey's salespeople if they had coconut extract. My favorite. I'm looking for one that's made without alcohol.
"No," she said, " we don't have coconut, but we're always adding new ones. But, let me give you some information about a fantastic company that sells wholesale flavor extracts. It's all natural. An excellent product. You can order online."
That's how I discovered Bickford Flavors--a small family-run company in Cleveland, Ohio that makes their flavor extracts in-house with all natural real ingredients.
I talked at length with the owner's mom, a retired Cleveland Clinic nurse, who now works at Bickford. They add no sugar, salt, oil or alcohol to their flavorings--and they're even Kosher certified. Vanilla is the exception--which apparently needs alcohol for the suspension. Some of the flavors, like peanut, are oil soluble, and they need to be bottled in a suspension with an oil so they won't separate. Call the company if you have specific questions--they clearly list the oil-soluble flavors of their website.
All the water-based flavors are very concentrated--and you'll need much less than you would with typical extracts. Always start with at less than half the amount asked for in a recipe.
Looking over the extensive list of more than 100 flavors, I noticed blood-orange, tangerine, and pomegranate. These sounded very similar to some of the pricey flavored balsamic vinegars that are available at Olive Tap--so I off-handedly mentioned this to the owner's mom. "Oh, yes. We sell wholesale to Olive Tap. We're the source of their flavorings."
So there you go! Bickford Flavors could be the next new ingredient in your own homemade salad dressings & sauces. You'll find almost every flavor imaginable. I haven't place an order yet--but I definitely will. First up: Coconut (without the alcohol--finally!), blood orange, pomegranate, & tangerine.
Bickford's claim to fame: Dr. John Freeman, the retired Johns Hopkins Pediatric Neurologist, who wrote the Ketogenic Diets--treatments for epilepsy and other disorders, recommends Bickford Flavors in his book, as a way to make his high-fat diet more creative, and palatable for children with epilepsy.
Which Salad Green Gives Nitric Oxide Levels the Biggest Boost?
Turns out, 8 out of the top 10 vegetables for boosting your nitric oxide levels, are the green leafies! No surprise.
Watch Dr. Michael Greger's latest video that ranks vegetables by nitrate level--the raw ingredient for increasing nitric oxide levels--and find out which green leafy is no. 1. Video Spoiler: It's Arugula
Here's what Dr. Greger has to say:
"If nitrates can boost athletic performance and protect against heart disease, which vegetables have the most: beans, bulb vegetables (like garlic and onions), fruiting vegetables (like eggplant and squash), greens (such as arugula), mushrooms, root vegetables (such as carrots and beets), or stem vegetables (such as celery and rhubarb)?"
If you don't see the video on your screen, click here!
1. Webb AJ, Patel N, Loukogeorgakis S, Okorie M, Aboud Z, Misra S, Rashid R, Miall P, Deanfield J, Benjamin N, MacAllister R, Hobbs AJ, Ahluwalia A. Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite. Hypertension. 2008 Mar;51(3):784-90. Epub 2008 Feb 4.
OK, dear readers, I need your help with testing out and improving my humble salad dressing template! I know you can come up with something so much better!
I have some great cookbooks to mail to the 2 people with best tasting Creamy Chia Salad Dressing recipes. Please, leave out nuts or tahini. Let the Kitchen Lab Experiments, begin!