Sinless Summer Salad Dressing

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | july 2019

With beautiful produce at our fingertips this time of year, summer salads are in full bloom. The options for making crisp and healthy summer salads are endless and the countless ways to dress it up almost infinite.

Some still believe that because we chose a seemingly healthy salad over a bacon double cheeseburger for lunch, we made the best culinary decision of the day. The verdict can't be rendered until we choose the right way to dress it up. Not all dressings are in your corner when it comes to health.

When you see the term "low fat," be careful. It may be lower in fat than other regular dressings, but I've seen some labels that put the sugar content in these low fat dressing at astronomic levels. I'd be better off topping my salad with a handful of Skittles and some orange soda.

The challenge we face is how to keep a salad healthy and make it delicious at the same time. It's been well documented that "fat is flavor," and chef's across the globe agree. But when you remove or reduce fat from things, you need to find a way to boost the flavor. Sugar, the mortal enemy of health conscious diners, can be a way that some dressings find the flavor. There are other ways my friends.

My answer is to veer away from cream, buttermilk, or mayo based options and lean on vinegar and oil with the addition of powerful flavor enhancers like minced garlic, olives, peppers and parmesan cheese (gotta have a little fat). Using extra virgin olive oil gives the mouthfeel and satisfaction you get from its fat content, but the kicker is that it's good fat, the monounsaturated fat, the fat we need. This way, only the flavors explode, not your waistline.

Try this recipe for Firecracker Vinaigrette this summer and enjoy the flavor fireworks all summer long!

Firecracker Vinaigrette

In a food processor add:

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1/4 cup honey

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Pulse ingredients a few times, scrape sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients get minced. Pulse again a few times to finely mince all the ingredients but don't completely puree everything. This is a rustic dressing and the ingredients should still have texture. In a separate large mixing bowl add:

2 Tablespoons Honey mustard

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Whisk the vinegar and mustard to blend then slowly whisk in:

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Whisk until ingredients are blended then transfer the minced vegetables into the oil and vinegar and whisk to blend. Use to dress up crisp greens for a perfect summer salad or use as a marinade for chicken before it goes on the grill. Enjoy!

--Banner image 'Summer Salad' by Lunita Lu is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Find more of their work at here and this license at

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