By Shannon Stonger
Health Impact News
Serving salad is a common means of adding enzymes and freshness to our meals. Surely none of us can argue with a big plate of fresh, organically grown produce! But, might we improve upon it by the addition of a salad dressing teeming with enzymes and probiotics?
Sadly, many commercial salad dressings are laden with inflammatory vegetable oils and are topped off with questionable sweeteners, thickeners, and pasteurized vinegars. The salad beneath might be fresh but, in these cases, the dressing certainly is not.
The synergy between dressing and salad is where the goodness happens so it pays to optimize both. A simple combination of olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar can be utilized as a throw-together option. Indeed, this will add a host of benefits including the prebiotics found in raw apple cider vinegar.
To take it a step further – and perhaps to better utilize the fermented foods you may already be making – a fermented salad dressing can be prepared. This not only adds micro- and macronutrients, it also provides you with a variety of flavors and textures to dress your salads differently every day of the week.
There are a few options for creating a salad dressing that contains live, active cultures. One utilizes a common fermented food as the vinegar aspect of a vinaigrette. One uses its creamy tang as the base of the familiar ranch dressing. The final option is to ferment a dressing base of vegetables and fruits and then use it alongside olive oil as a dressing.
If you’ve ever left your kombucha to ferment just a little too long, then you are familiar with the inevitable vinegary bite that kombucha can achieve. This is acetic acid, the same acid that gives vinegar its signature flavor.
If you are already brewing kombucha, or are looking for another way to use it when you get started, this vinaigrette is a great option. Make your favorite vinegar and oil dressing by simply replacing the vinegar with long-fermented kombucha, or try this tasty recipe.
Garlic-Mustard Kombucha Vinaigrette
- ½ cup kombucha vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a pint jar, cap tightly, and shake until thoroughly combined.
Creamy Cultured Dressing
Ranch and blue cheese dressings are popular salad dressings that can be made with fermented ingredients. Kefir, yogurt, cultured buttermilk, and truly cultured sour cream can all be used as the base for this dressing with delicious and tangy results.
Combining kefir or yogurt with sour cream results in a creamy dressing with a subtle tang while using kefir or yogurt exclusively will create a simple, extra tangy dressing with a slightly thinner consistency.
Kefir or Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup sour cream or coconut oil mayonnaise (or an additional ½ cup kefir or yogurt)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
- 1 cup plain whole milk kefir or yogurt
- ½ – 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried onion powder
Combine all ingredients in a pint jar, cap tightly, and shake vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
Fermented Vegetable Dressings
One of the most interesting and dynamic means of putting a fermented salad dressing on the table is through a fermented vegetable dressing. These dressings are made in one of two ways:
- Blended Fermented Vegetables. If you have a batch of fermented sauerkraut, dill pickles, or kimchi that got a little mushy over time – or that you’d like to transform into something new – then give it a whirl in the blender. Adding the vegetables – brine and all – creates a slurry of tang, salt, and whatever flavorings you’ve already added to your pickles. This then becomes the base of flavor and volume of your dressing. Combine it in a jar with olive oil or pour it directly over your salad with an additional drizzle of oil.
- Blended Vegetables Left to Culture. Dressings can also be created by blending your favorite vegetables, herbs, and spices together and then culturing the mixture. Tomatoes and basil; zucchini, peppers, and cilantro; or cucumber, green onion, and garlic are just the beginning. Once you’ve blended up your favorite vegetables and flavorings, add 1-2 teaspoons salt for every pint of vegetable puree. Taste and make sure it is flavorful; it shouldn’t be bland or overly salty. Adjust salt as needed and add 1 tablespoon of starter culture to your pint of vegetable puree. A starter culture is brine from a previous batch of fermented vegetables or whey strained from live kefir or yogurt. Combine these and allow to ferment for 2-3 days at room temperature, burping the jar as needed when carbon dioxide is released via the fermentation process. Then pour over your salad along with extra virgin olive oil. Refrigerate any leftover salad dressing.
All of these dressings can be whipped up quickly, once the cultured base is on hand, and all three can be prepared ahead of time and tucked away in the refrigerator for use throughout the week.
Finally, consider topping off that bed of organic vegetables and cultured dressing with a scoop of fermented vegetables. This is a great way to utilize fermented vegetables while tucking them into the meal of the pickiest of eaters. A salad with dynamics such as this will aid digestion with its enzymes and probiotics while satisfying your hunger for flavor and nourishment alike.