cucumber, tomato + pineapple salad with chili lime dressing.

I love the flexibility of salads. Vegetables, fruit, grain, rice… the possibilities are endless and you can really let your creativity run wild. Today I have a light, bright and utterly refreshing option that will cool you down on even the hottest of summer days.

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Pineapple and cucumber make a beautiful pair, as evidenced in this agua fresca. We are adding in fresh mint and cilantro, which gently perfume the salad, and accent the slight citrusy heat of the dressing. This is an absolute cinch to put together, making it great for last minute entertaining. You can also make this ahead of time, but do not dress until ready to serve, as the garlic and lime can muddy the flavors of the fruit (yes! All three main ingredients are technically fruits!) and alter the texture.

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This was a hit at my dinner party the other evening, and I know you’ll love it, too!

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cucumber, tomato, + pineapple salad with chili-lime dressing.
adapted from epicurious.com 

ingredients
1/2 English seedless cucumber, sliced lengthwise and seeds scooped out
2 cups pineapple, quartered, sliced again lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 roma tomato, seeds scooped out, sliced into strips, and diced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint

dressing
2.5 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

directions
Dressing: mince the garlic clove and then add the salt to the minced garlic. Smash back and forth with the flat side of a heavy chefs knife, mixing together to create a garlic paste (will not be smooth). Work with for a few minutes until the salt and garlic begin to combine. Add this to a small mason jar, and add the jalapeño, starting with one tablespoon (work your way up according to your heat preferences), sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and oil. Seal jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, add all to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Refrigerate if making ahead of time.

Add cucumber, tomato, pineapple, cilantro and mint to a large bowl and pour dressing over (start with half and work up if you like a wetter salad). Stir gently, transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 as a starter/salad.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

vegan poppyseed dressing.

I’ve been in a bit of a salad dressing rut. As much I love my tried and true balsamic vinaigrette and super simple drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar, I’ve been craving something different for my salads. I brought home a huge box of baby spinach last week with the intent of switching up my green smoothies from my usual kale (a girl’s gotta have some variety!). Soon I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to consume the entire box in smoothie form before it went bad, and the need for spinach salads was born. I usually only eat spinach salads in restaurants (for no good reason other than I’m a creature of habit), but upon making one, I decided that the tender leaves needed a dressing all their own.

I was reminded of an absolutely delicious poppyseed dressing that my aunt used to make and bring to every Christmas Day dinner when I was growing up. She mixed it with pears, oranges, cheese and romaine lettuce, but I was in love with that dressing. Sweet, but not cloying, and thick enough to lightly coat each salad ingredient. Yum! I decided to recreate it.

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Upon doing some research, I found that many recipes included mayonnaise or some yogurt to thicken and provide a creaminess. I’m no stranger to yogurt-based dressings, but I wanted to keep this dressing lighter and more acidic so it wouldn’t overwhelm the spinach. I think we have a winner! This is thinner and lighter than you’d usually expect from poppyseed dressing, but that unmistakable sweet flavor is there. I used a blend of red wine and regular ol’ white vinegar for this, but you can definitely use white wine or champagne vinegar in place of the white.

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This is perfect over tender baby spinach. Look out for my favorite way to use it in the next post!

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A sneak peek of the salad!

vegan poppyseed dressing.
adapted from culinaryhill.com.

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ingredients
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1.5 teaspoons poppyseeds
1 tablespoon sweet onion, grated (or approximately 1/2 inch piece tossed in whole)

directions
Combine everything but oil in a blender or food processor. With the blender on low/medium, remove the top of the blender and slowly stream in the oil until well combined.

Transfer dressing to a jar or container with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

buttermilk yogurt ranch dressing.

I have been craving salads like CRAZY over the past few weeks. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am someone who just craves those fresh, crunchy vegetables. Growing up, dinner at my mom’s house always included a very ‘square’ meal of a protein, starch, vegetable, PLUS a salad and warmed baguette. Both my brother and I always ate our salad without fail, and my love for them has only intensified as I’ve gotten older. You already know about my love for arugula and lemon, but did you also know that I’m a fiend for really good ranch dressing? It’s true!

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As much as I love my acidic vinaigrettes, there is something so deliciously old school about ranch dressing. Now, out of the bottle is fine and all, but once you see how easy, fresh, delicious and easy making your own is, I doubt you’ll ever be able to go back to the bottled stuff again! Even better for my mayo haters, this version is mayo free! What does that mean? Well, it means that by swapping the sour cream and mayo for plain Greek yogurt, we are drastically cutting down on the calorie count, the fat count, and upping the protein!

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As much as the yogurt plays an integral role, buttermilk is the real star here. Despite the name,  buttermilk is tangy and low in fat yet incredibly thick, making it ideal for this recipe. Add in some fresh herbs (I used the classic dill and chives, but feel free to play around to your taste preferences. Please use fresh herbs in this — they are important and really make a difference!

The dressing will thicken as it sits, making it ideal for dips and for crudites! To thin it out, add a bit of water or leftover milk and whisk. This will keep for 3-4 days in your refrigerator, covered tightly. Enjoy this over a crisp salad or with veggies dunked into it!

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buttermilk yogurt ranch dressing.
adapted from Once Upon a Chef. 

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ingredients

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plus one tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt (use 2% for best results)
1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
5-7 dashes of hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup fresh chives, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
scant 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

directions

Lightly whisk everything together in a large bowl until well combined. Transfer to a container and chill for at least one hour before serving. Keep tightly covered in refrigerator. Will keep for 3-4 days.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**