DIY Delicious Vegan Salad Dressings

A good salad dressing can be made many different ways, and once you’ve figured out a basic formula that you like, you can make any number of variations using your favorite herbs and seasonings.

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For us, a good salad dressing is an essential part of making sure we eat enough raw food, and especially fresh leafy greens. We try to eat salad every day, as well as daily green smoothies, since we believe that eating fresh greens is one of the best things a person can do for their diet. But honestly, salad can get a little boring sometimes, unless you know how to make a variety of different dressings to keep things interesting.

Of course, one can buy many different types of vegan salad dressing in the health food store, or even in the supermarket. But ready-made dressing can be expensive if you use it regularly, and it really isn’t difficult to make your own. If you include vinegar or lemon in your dressings, they stay pretty well in the refrigerator, so you can always make more than you need so that you’re set for a few days ahead.

A good salad dressing can be made many different ways, and once you’ve figured out a basic formula that you like, you can make any number of variations using your favorite herbs and seasonings. Fresh or dried dill, basil or parsley make great additions, as do curry powder, fresh garlic and cumin.

We’re big fans of creamy dressings, but generally that style is created by using a lot of oil and even dairy products. Using silken tofu is a great way of creating a ‘ranch-style’ consistency, vegan-style. One of our favorite methods is to create a creamy base by blending soft or silken tofu (organic of course) with water, a little tahini and olive oil. Then we add vinegar, mustard, a tablespoon of miso, some nutritional yeast and sometimes a dash of tamari. In fact, that exact dressing can be used to create a creamy coleslaw, potato salad or a delicious pasta salad, with just a little sweet onion and red pepper… Yum.

Just to mix things up a bit, here’s a collection of recipes that will keep you returning to the salad bowl!

Note: If you don’t have a blender, a simple dressing can be made in a glass jar with a lid, including a basic tahini dressing (see page 6), but having a blender really increases your options. In addition, if you don’t have rice syrup, you can substitute any vegan sweetener. These days we tend to prefer whole dates (preferably soaked overnight, unless you have a high-powered blender.)

Miso Dressings

Miso is one of our favorite ingredients to add to dressings, sauces and gravies. It’s nutritionally rich as well as being a tasty seasoning that adds a certain ‘body’ to a salad dressing that we find invaluable. The Sweet and Sour recipe (below) is one of our absolute favorites.

Sweet and Sour Miso Dressing
yields 3–4 cups

1 cup water
1 1/4 cup oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. miso (preferably blonde)
3–4 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
5 tsp. nutritional yeast

In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Miso Lemon Mustard Dressing
yields 2 cups

1 cup water
2/3 cup oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
5 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. blonde miso
2 Tbsp. mustard (stoneground)
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Sesame Miso Dressing
yields 3 cups

1/2 cup miso
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1–2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. onion powder

In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Italian Dressings

It’s Italian! Dressing
yields 2–3 cups

1 cup water
1 cup cold-pressed olive oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 clove garlic, diced
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 1/2 Tbsp. herb seasoning (such as Herbamare)
1 1/2 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1/2–1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. onion powder
a dash of pepper
1 sweet onion slice, diced finely

In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Creamy Italian Dressing
yields 3 cups

1/2 cup oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1 Tbsp. tamari or substitute
1 cup soft tofu, rinsed & drained
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
herb seasoning (such as Herbamare), to taste
onion & garlic powder, to taste
a dash of black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil

In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Veggie-Based Dressing

One little-known technique for adding body to salad dressings (without adding a lot of oil) is to blend up cooked veggies that have a soft consistency. Squash, carrots, even a small amount of sweet potato all make delicious additions to a salad dressing, and they also add a sweetness which off-sets the vinegar nicely, and eliminates the need for a lot of added sweetener.

French Dressing
yields 5 cups

5 medium carrots, sliced
1/4–1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
1 2/3 cup water or carrot stock
4 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
7–8 Tbsp. tomato paste
garlic & onion powder, to taste
2 1/2 Tbsp. tamari or substitute
a dash of dill weed
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. basil

1.  Steam carrots in two cups of water until tender. Save the carrot stock to use later.
2.  In a blender, blend liquid ingredients, tomato paste and steamed carrots. Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy smooth. Chill before serving.

Tofu-based Dressings

Thousand Island Dressing
yields 3 cups

1/4 cup oil
2/3 cup water
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 lb. (1 cup) soft tofu, rinsed & drained
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup sweet onion, diced (optional)
a dash of onion powder
1 Tbsp. mustard (stoneground)
1 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1 Tbsp. tamari (or sea salt to taste)
4 Tbsp. vegan sweet relish

1.  In a blender, blend all ingredients except half of the sweet relish and the diced onion.
2.  Add remaining relish and the onion and blend for just 30 seconds. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

House Dressing
yields 3 cups

3/4 cup water
1/4–1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup tahini
2/3 cup soft tofu, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 Tbsp. tamari or substitute
3 Tbsp. mustard (stoneground)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. herb seasoning (such as Herbamare)

In a blender, blend all ingredients until creamy. Chill before serving.
Keeps 2–3 days in the refrigerator.

Tahini Dressings

Simple Tahini Dressing
yields 1 1/2 cups

1 cup water
1/2 cup tahini
3 tsp. tamari or substitute
spices or herbs of choice (optional)
mustard, to taste

In a blender, blend all ingredients. (Use 1/4 cup less water for a thicker dressing to use in bakes and casseroles.) Chill before serving.
Keeps for up to two days in the refrigerator.

Quick Tahini Dressing in a Jar
great for traveling!

1/2 cup tahini
2/3 cup water
2 tsp. tamari or substitute
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
mustard, to taste

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.

Other Dressings

Lemon Basil Dressing
yields 2 cups

1/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil (you can lessen the oil content by using some soft tofu)
1/4–1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp. tamari or substitute
4 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
other fresh herbs (optional)

In a blender, blend all ingredients together. Chill before serving.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

No–Oil Tomato Vinaigrette
yields 1 cup

2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
a dash of lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. tamari or substitute
1 Tbsp. mustard (stoneground)

In a blender, blend all ingredients to a creamy consistency. Chill before serving.

 

Discover more incredibly delicious vegan recipes in the Gentle World cookbooks

– available in our online store –


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