Date Sweetened Vinagrette

by Maggie on November 12, 2010

I think salad is a side dish served at every dinner party.

And rightfully so. Salad is so versatile.

So many greens.
So many dressings.
So many toppings.

Whenever we go to holiday dinners with Pete’s side of the family, I get asked to bring a salad. I think it’s because my salads aren’t your usual chopped cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and iceberg lettuce salads. You just never know what’s in my salad bowl!

And I’m a little bit of a dressing snob. You do know it’s faster to make your own salad dressing than it is to go to a store and buy some, right?

If You Build It

I always begin building my salads with a mix of greens – spinach, romaine, kale, arugula, whatever is in my fridge. There’s one rule though, no iceberg. I’m so over iceberg lettuce.

I usually throw in some walnuts, and if it’s a really special occasion I like to make candied nuts to top off my salads. I also like to add some fresh sprouts. There’s a woman at our year-round farmer’s market who makes an amazing variety of sprouts. Sometimes we add a cup of quinoa to our salads. Yum!

When I was in Switzerland a few years ago, I had a salad that had avocado in it and I fell in love. So there’s always some perfectly ripe avocado in our salads. And on those special occasions, we like to put some pears or berries in too.

My friend Glenn likes to grate beets, carrots, and sweet potato for his salads. I love the texture this adds to a salad. And the colour rocks.

That’s my goal for every salad – to give it some colour.

We have a few salad dressings that we rotate through, but this is a fairly new one. It has yet to be debuted at a Savage Family party. I think it will make its first appearance this holiday season.

Date Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 medjool dates soaked until soft

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 tsp Dijon mustard (I like to use grainy Dijon)

2 tbsp water (use the date-soaking water)

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp basil, chiffonade (check out Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free’s chiffonade tutorial)

Place the balsamic vinegar, garlic, Dijon and water in a large measuring cup. Blend well with an immersion blender (or in your blender). With blender running, add oil and combine. Add salt, pepper and basil.

This makes a thick dressing so you might want to thin it out with more water. Pete and I like our dressing thick!

Makes ¾ cup of dressing.

Did you know that most balsamic vinegars contain caramel colouring? Why? I don’t need my balsamic to be the colour of caramel. I’m okay with au natural. Solution? Buy organic balsamic vinegar. Or go to Italy and buy some…

Are you a salad dressing snob?

You can find this and many more slightly indulgent recipes at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.
This post is linked up to Gluten-Free Holiday celebrations. Visit Gluten-Free Easily by next Wednesday, November 17th, and join in the awesome giveaway that’s going on!

http://www.simplysugarandglutenfree.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/GF-Holiday-2010.jpg

I joined the Hearth and Soul Hop for the FIRST time by linking up this recipe! Head on over and check out some amazing recipes, all of which will nourish your soul! I love it.

You’ll also find this recipe at Gluten-Free Wednesday which is hosted by Linda at The Gluten-Free Homemaker. Check it out!


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Alta November 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

I’m so over iceberg too! This sounds like a wonderful dressing.

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Tinks November 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

This sounds excellent. Funny but after years of eating every lettuce except Iceberg I am now enjoying its crispy texture and lovely crunch.

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Maggie November 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Tinks! That is so funny. I am sure one day I’ll go back to iceberg. As far as I’m concerned, iceberg is the best sandwich lettuce though!

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Shirley @ gfe November 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I consider the best use of Iceberg lettuce to be those Chinese Lettuce Wraps at PF Chang’s (and a few other restaurants). Otherwise, I don’t eat Iceberg if I have a choice. But I’d probably make them at home with Iceberg, too, because Mr. GFE loves the stuff. LOL Great dressing, Maggie! Now I need to get some dates to give it a go. :-) Thanks, too, for adding it as a Thanksgiving Favorite for our Gluten-Free Holiday event! It’s the first dressing in the roundup. ;-)

xo,
Shirley

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Maggie November 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Hi Shirley – We don’t have PF Changs in Canada! I’ll look forward to trying them in Chicago perhaps? I’m happy to be part of the roundup, especially when you’re hosting!

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Sara November 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Everytime I have store-bought salad dressing (which is not very often), I never enjoy it nearly as much as home-made. You are so right – home-made dressings are SO much better! I have a bunch that I make depending on the salad – so yoummy!

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Maggie November 13, 2010 at 7:42 am

This is why I love you Sara! I would love it if you shared some of your recipes with me! xo

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Ricki November 13, 2010 at 8:05 am

Great ideas!

Oh, and Maggie–you WON a copy of Ali and Tom’s Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook!! Congrats! Please email me or Amy with your mailing address so she can get your prize out to you asap! :D

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Ellen @ I Am Gluten Free November 13, 2010 at 9:38 am

Once you make homemade salad dressing, I think you never go back. Storebought jarred dressing, even the fancy expensive ones, just don’t compare. Two minutes to make it and it makes such a difference. I love your use of dates. I use them a lot as sweeteners for smoothies, and will now try it in my homemade salad dressing.

You’re so lucky to have won a copy of Ali & Tom’s Whole Life Nutrition cookbook. It’s a bible in my gluten free kitchen!

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Maggie November 14, 2010 at 9:45 am

Hi Ellen – Thanks! I totally agree with you – they just don’t compare, and it’s so incredibly easy because most of us already have the ingredients in our cupboard. I do feel so lucky to have won their cookbook! I can’t wait to get my copy!

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Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli November 14, 2010 at 8:55 am

I will join the salad dressing snob club. I may have a whole foods nearby but you have a year round farmers market. I’d happily trade.

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Maggie November 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hey Kristin – You’re right, I should be thankful for having the year-round market close to home! Welcome to the salad dressing snob club!

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Alisa Cooks November 15, 2010 at 12:50 am

Maggie you are brilliant! I’ve never thought to date sweeten salad dressing. I always make my own salad dressing, but for some reason I only make one serving each time so every day I have to whip up a salad dressing. I’m really not sure why I do that!! Time to plan ahead a little; this looks like a good recipe to start with.

On the salad – don’t forget the avocado!

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Maggie November 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Alisa – Thank you! I love being called brilliant. Do it again sometime okay? I always double my dressing recipes so my sister can have some. She loves homemade too, but likes it better when someone else makes it! Love the avocado. It adds such a great texture to any salad.

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Gigi November 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Maggie, we, too are dressing snobs! Haven’t purchased any in…um…well…yeah, it’s been that long! I made this last night, LOVE it, will make again! I love dates and I always try to incorporate a sweet component to my salads. We like adding seedless organic grapes to ours along with a crunchy/salty element like roasted sunflower seeds (I have nut allergies, otherwise, I’d be tossing in toasted pecans or almonds!).
And this is not too thick for us, either…we like a thick, stick to the greens type dressing around here!
Thanks!
~Gigi :)

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Kim - Cook It Allergy Free November 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Maggie! I love love love this dressing. And i hate hate hate iceberg (except, as Shirley mentioned, when it is used in PF Chang’s lettuce wraps). This dressing looks like such a winner! I will totally have to try this. I always make my own dressings. And yes, I am a total dressing (and balsamic vinegar) snob (but I blame that on my mother). ;)

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Maggie November 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Hey Kim – I clearly need to get to a PF Changs so I can have some of these lettuce wraps you and Shirley are talking about! I blame my snobbery on my mother too! She always made homemade dressings, still does! Her caesar salad is world-famous!

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Sophie November 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Hey Maggie!!
What a divine date dressing!! That is such a cool & neat idea to add dates!! That is a must make!! Yesterday, I made your vegan & gf pumpkin bread & I used your gf flour mix! It is one of the best combo of gf flours mix that I have ever used!! I love the millet in there!

I am going to make pizza dough with it too! thanks again for your lovely work well recipes & they are so tasty too!

Kisses from Brussels to you!

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Maggie November 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Miss Sophie you are so good for my ego! Thanks for letting me know how much you like the mix. I am so glad, let me know how the pizza dough works out! Enjoy!

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girlichef November 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Well, I have never heard of sweetening a vinaigrette with dates…but I LOVE the sound of it! I love the natural sweetness of dates and I can just imagine the taste of it w/ some gorgeous greens! I may have to put this to work on Turkey day this year. I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us at the hearth and soul hop- Welcome!

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Maggie November 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Hey Girlichef – Can you believe I’ve only been onto the natural sweetness of dates for about 6 months! I had some leftover dates soaking and I thought, heck I think I’ll add these to my dressing. Voila! It worked! I’m so glad to be part of this week’s hearth and soul hop – it took me long enough.

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Lexie November 16, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Mmmmm, my mind is spinning with the possibilities of this dressing and ….

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Maggie November 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Hey Lex – Always good to see you here! Only good things come out of your spinning mind!

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Linda November 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I’m with you in the iceberg. I recently bought a head for something, I can’t remember what, but it had been years since I bought any before that. I make salad dressing for myself, but the rest of my family is stuck on a particular brand of Ranch. I haven’t tried making Ranch because I always forget to buy buttermilk. I really should though. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

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Maggie November 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Hi Linda – I can’t remember the last time I bought iceberg! I bet homemade ranch would be so amazing! Let me know when you get that recipe up!

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Lindsey November 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Maggie: You do know it’s faster to make your own salad dressing than it is to go to a store and buy some, right?

Me: It’s definitely faster to make my own salad dressing than to try and find one at the store that doesn’t have soybean oil in it!!!!!!

Thanks for another great recipe, my friend! :)

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Maggie November 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

You’re welcome Linds. Anything I can do to make life easier for you and your babes! xo

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Lori November 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Oooooh this looks so good! Sweet and savory and homemade. Atop salad and it’s golden. :)

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Amanda November 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I think that dressing has my name all over it.. you know me and dates. :) well done, luv.

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Maggie November 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Thanks Mand!! And yes, I know you and dates. Don’t think this one goes so well with ice cubes though! LOL!

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Beth November 19, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Love, Love LOVE this idea! Can’t go wrong with a good salad dressing.

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Maggie November 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Thanks Beth. I agree, a good salad dressing totally makes the salad!

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