Pasta salad is a good way to use up leftover veggies in the fridge. Pasta is thought of as not healthy, but if you use it as a base for lots of fresh veggies, it’s fine. Try to find a good organic pasta brand, and go for gluten-free if you find that it suits you better. But for most people, regular dry pasta is fine.
Lettuce may seem bland, but it’s packed with nutrition and makes a great base ingredient. You don’t have to just go for the ‘lettuce, tomato and slices of cucumber salad’. Lettuce can be far more exciting, if you let it. And it’s also a good salad vegetable to use a wrap, popular in raw food recipes (just add the filling and roll up).
In fact, most people do eat a lot of lettuce, so it’s easy to find everywhere. Choose organic where you can, and buy from shops that don’t wrap it in plastic. Don’t store it near fruits that emit the gas ethylene (apples, bananas) as it will soon go off.
Due to being very high in vitamin K, check if you are on heart medication, as you may be advised not to eat (or not to eat too much of it). And if you live with furry friends, know that iceberg lettuce should not be fed to rabbits. See what to feed rabbits instead. Basically hay and fresh grass, with a few healthy treats.
There are two types of lettuce. Butterhead lettuce has oily leaves and crisp lettuce (like iceberg) has brittle leaves. Take your pick!
Salad dressing is sold in the millions the world over. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but many brands use ingredients from animals (often factory-farmed) and others are high in processed ingredients. This post will look at how to make a classic simple homemade salad dressing, then we’ll discover simple plant-based recipes for the most popular salad dressings. And then end with some good store-bought brands. Try to dry your salad before dressing it (whizzing it around in a tea towel is fine, if you don’t have a salad spinner) so that you get the most flavour out of the dressing, without water diluting it. Vegan French Dressing (Shane & Simple) is very easy to make in one bowl. You need 7 simple ingredients and 5 minutes. Oil-free.
Americans are some of the world’s biggest consumers of salad dressings, with many based around Caesar Salad, and Italian also very popular. Many conventional salad dressings contain mayonnaise (raw egg should not be eaten in pregnancy) and low-calorie dressings abound, although they are not as tasty as others like thousand island, blue cheese, ranch and honey mustard.
We all think of salad as being healthy. But some people with delicate stomachs don’t do well on salad (and if you are on blood-thinning medication, sometimes you are not supposed to eat too many greens due to vitamin K, check your medication). Ayurvedic doctors are not fans of salad, saying that we digest food better once cooked. Others are raw foodists, who say we should never cook food. No wonder people are confused.
A Simple French Vinaigrette Recipe
The formula for a simple French salad dressing is one part acid (usually cider vinegar) to three parts oil (usually olive oil). You can then just whisk with a fork, shake in a jam jar or use a blender (the former is fine for small quantities). Add fresh herbs and add-on ingredients like mustard, garlic, vegan honey or miso. The key to a good salad dressing is to form an emulsion, to avoid it separating. You can easily shake leftover dressing, to use it again (use up within a short while, and keep covered in the fridge). Try these 5 fruity salad dressing recipes (The Veg Space) including a simple raspberry vinaigrette.
This glass salad dressing maker has 6 easy recipes (just sub out honey, egg etc for vegan alternatives). Measure ingredients to the line, shake and pour. The bottle includes a screw-on cap and easy-to-pour flip top closer, to ensure secure shaking and pouring. The bottle includes recipes for Italian Herb, French Vinaigrette, Citrus Ginger and Caesar dressing.
Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
Caesar salad dressing is one of the world’s most popular accompaniments to salad, said to be invented by Italian-American chef Caesar Cardini, back in 1924 in Mexico (although his brother said he invented it) Designed by accident due to a shortage of ingredients, the basic recipe is lettuce dressed with a sauce made with Parmesan (contains calf rennet) and Worcester sauce (contains anchovies). It’s usually served with Romaine lettuce, alongside garlic and lemon juice.
5-Minute Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing (Veggies Don’t Bite) is made with raw cashews, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, capers and black pepper. There’s a nice simple recipe too at Simple Vegan Blog (made witih garlic, oil, lemon juice, mustard, black pepper and capers, alongside vegan Parmesan and vegan Worcestershire sauce.
Vegan Caesar Dressing (Running on Real Food) is easy-to-make and free from nuts and oil. It also works nicely as a sauce, dip or sandwich spread.
Vegan Caesar Dressing (The Simple Veganista) is rich and creamy, and ready in under 10 minutes. You just need 5 simple ingredients (oil-free).
Vegan Ranch Salad Dressing
This is the most popular salad dressing in many parts of the US. Created by an Alaskan plumber back in 1949, the traditional version is not very healthy, made with mayonnaise and buttermilk, although it does contain fresh herbs.
Vegan Ranch Dressing (The Simple Veganista) is thick and creamy, made with cashews, lemon and fresh herbs. An ideal dip for your favourite veggies.
Easy Oil-Free Ranch Dressing (Shane & Simple) is packed with flavour. This is ideal for salads, sandwiches and pouring/serving with vegetables.
Vegan Chipotle Ranch Dressing (Minimalist Baker) is made with soaked cashews to make a vegan buttermilk, then blended with garlic, onion powder, vinegar, salt and pepper, fresh dill and chipotle.
Vegan Italian Salad Dressing
Italian dressing is very popular. The name is after the seasonings it’s served with – usually basil and oregano, mixed with garlic, olive oil and wine vinegar.
Easy Creamy Vegan Italian Dressing (My Plantiful Cooking) only needs 7 ingredients and 5 minutes to make. Super rich and creamy to make greens taste great, cashews are used in place of oil, to make it far healthier too. You can freeze leftovers.
Vegan Thousand Island Dressing
Thousand island dressing is an American condiment that is typically made with oil, lemon juice, mustard, spices, and ketchup. It often contains pickles and onions. Believed to stem from the upper St Lawrence River (between the US and Canada), it’s often used on burgers and in a Reuben sandwich. It’s also popular in Sweden and Germany.
Vegan Thousand Island Dressing (Shane & Simple) is made with silken tofu, ketchup, Dijon mustard, spices (garlic, onion, paprika), sweet pickle relish, dried dill and date sugar.
No-Mayo Vegan Thousand Island Dressing (The Vegan 8) is made with cashews, ketchup, lemon juice, mustard, white onion, sweet pickle relish and paprika.
Vegan Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
Blue cheese dressing is a thick dressing, often used as a dip. Blue cheese is mixed with any creamy sauce from milk to yoghurt to mayo. Many include onion and garlic powder.
Creamy Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing (Veeg) is lovely on a veggie burger, or drizzle on a plaste of roasted vegetables as a sauce. You can even swirl this into warm rice or serve as a healthy dip alongside fresh raw veggies.
Easy Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing (It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken) is made with soft or silken tofu instead of mayo, and plays around with various ingredients to get the same tanginess.
Vegan Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
Vegan Honey Mustard Dressing (Shane & Simple) is quick and easy to make. Free from oil, it’s sweet and tangy and perfect as a dipping sauce, or with salads and sandwiches.
Vegan Honey Mustard (Home Cooked Roots) combines vegan mayo with Dijon mustard, white vinegar, and a combo of maple syrup and agave, to act as the honey substitute.
Not-so-Honey Maple Dijon Dressing (Simple Veganista) is a sweet creamy dressing that needs just 4 ingredients. You can also use it to roast or grill veggies (or use as a marinade) if you double the recipe.
Where to Buy Good Vegan Salad Dressing
Sacla makes good salad dressing. Choose from:
- Vegan horseradish sauce
- Vegan blue cheese salad dressing
- Vegan Caesar salad dressing
- Vegan salad cream
- Tofu Island Thousand Salad Dressing!
Inspired Vegan Classic Sauces (image) go beyond just offering a ‘French dressing’ like they do in supermarkets. These are mostly thick and creamy dressings, to replace all your traditional favourites. They are sold in glass bottles (recycle plastic wrap at supermarket bag recycling bins). Includes:
- Caesar Dressing is rich and creamy, drizzle over romaine or cos lettuce or top with tomato, avocado and croutons for Caesar salad.
- Dill Mustard Sauce has an incredible flavour, serve with potato tart, vegetable pie or over polenta cakes.
- Hollandaise-Style Sauce is egg-free. Rich and creamy for potato sauce, asparagus or a tofu-based sub for eggs benedict.
- Honea Mustard Dressing is perfect for carrot salads, mixed greens, pasta salad or a dip for veggie fries.
- Horseradish Sauce is good for beetroot salad, a plate of roasted veggies or a dish dish for dipping.
- Tartare Sauce is ideal for your vegan fish and chips. Full of flavour and retains the classic taste.
- Bonsan Organic Sweet Mustard Dressing is made with rapeseed oil, cider vinegar and lemon juice, and a touch of agave syrup. Ideal to dress a simple green salad, or to drizzle onto roasted vegetables.
- Bonsan Organic Caesar Dressing is thick and creamy, but without dairy or eggs. Bonsan Organic Garlic Aioli is lovingly prepared.
- Vegusto French Dressing is created by an award-winning Swiss company that makes vegan meats and cheeses. This ‘No Muh’ white salad salad is creamy, inspired by the classic French recipe.
- Lucy’s Classic House Dressing is made with extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and lemon. Or try her Ginger & Sesame Dressing and Fresh & Tangy Raspberry Dressing (nice with vegan feta for a Greek salad). Or use The Olive Branch Greek Dressing.
- Slightly Different Salad Dressings is a vegan-approved gluten-free range of salad dressings, sold in the UK. Choose from Coriander & Lime, Raspberry Mint or Orange Ginger Chilli.
- Fresh Mint & Raspberry
- Fresh Parsley & Red Onion
- Fresh Tarragon & Lemon
- Fresh Thyme & Balsamic
The Best Vegan Potato Salad (Shane & Simple) combines tender potatoes with an oil-free creamy cashew mayo, and crunchy celery.
This nutritious roasted vegetable salad (The Awesome Green) makes a nice change, from tomato, lettuce and cucumber! Ideal for winter months, it features lots of veggies (kale and parsley), healthy fats (pumpkin seeds and extra virgin olive oil), protein (quinoa) and healing spices (ginger and turmeric).
The salad is then topped with a homemade turmeric dressing, which is a good anti-inflammatory spice. This is made with turmeric powder, extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and ginger, and black pepper.
This veggie-packed Italian pasta salad (Planted and Picked) is ideal for a summer lunch. As well as the obligatory tomatoes, it features peppers, spinaches and onions. You can add sun-dried tomatoes too, but not watery vegetables (cucumber) as it won’t keep well otherwise. The recipe also is made with a good quality extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil.
Health experts differ in their opinion of olive oil. Some say it’s healthy, others say that all refined oils are best avoided for health. However, Italians and others have been eating foods with olive oil for years, and have better health than many other countries. What is true is that for cooking, rapeseed oil is usually better. Save olive oil if used, for drizzling over cold dishes, like this. Choose organic and use sparingly, but enjoy!
Who says a salad has to be cold? Many people don’t like ice-cold salads, especially those with dodgy digestion. Here are some nice warm salads that can be enjoyed in cooler weather and still enables you to get all your vitamins from fresh greens.
Vegan Chevre Chaud Salad (Full of Plants) is a classic French dish. This one replaces the goat cheese with cashew cheese, and is fermented with lemon juice for a creamy tang.
Roasted Veggie Salad with Chimichurri (Minimalist Baker) features roasted veggies on a bed of greens, with a tahini lemon dressing or green sauce. Add fresh herbs if wished.
Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad (Minimalist Baker) is rich with protein due to pecans, and also contains olive oil and brown sugar to caramelize. Finish with spinach and cranberries and a homemade dressing with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning.
Vegan Winter Salad (Lazy Cat Kitchen) is not warm, but filled with warming veggies over crispy leaves. The apple, celery, cauliflower, spinach and rocket (arugula) combined with carrot and turnip. Top with cranberries and toasted almonds.
Warm Pasta Salad with Healthy Greens (Well Vegan) is an ideal winter warmer made with roasted squash and Brussels sprouts, apple, cranberries and greens, and a simple dressing. Use any type of pasta you like.
Learn how to make your own salad, and you no longer have to buy plastic-wrapped bags of tasteless salad at the store, only to see it wilt in a couple of days. Not everyone can eat salad, so be aware of this. If you are on heart-thinning medication, check the paper inserts, in case you are limited in leafy greens (too much vitamin K which could interact).
Make Your Own Pasta Salad
Cooked too much pasta last night? It’s easy to do, if you don’t measure it out. But instead of throwing it away, use it to make a tasty homemade pasta salad. A great way to use it up, and add some fresh veggies the next day, makes an ideal takeaway lunch, if you’re on the go.
15-Minute Pasta Salad (So Vegan) is beautiful enough to be the centrepiece for the table. Packed with nutrition, this features onion, cucumber and cherry tomatoes, along with olives, parsley and tinned chickpeas. All dressed in a simple homemade sauce. salted water to the boil and cook the pasta as per the packet.
Quick and Healthy Vegetable Pasta Salad (The Simple Veganista) packs in chopped fresh peppers and cucumber, cherry tomatoes and tinned chickpeas for protein.
Vegan Chicken Salad (Running on Real Food) is made with tempeh and vegan mayo.
Spring Salad with Scallion Dressing (Lazy Cat Kitchen) is made with pea shoots, asparagus, radishes and peas, with almonds and pasta, orzo or quinoa. Dress with basil or mint.
Books to Make Your Own Salad
- Vegan Salads is a lovely book that takes you through the way to make your own basic salad and dressing. It does contain 100 beautifully illustrated recipes, but is more an informational book.
- Show Up For Salad includes lots of main meal salads including Juicy Grilled Summer Days Peach Salad, All-Day Breakfast Nacho Salad Bowl, Lazy Seitan Gyro Salad, Peruvian Potato & Red Quinoa Salad and Pizza Panzella with Beet Prosciutto. Along with sides like crumbly salty almond cheese and buffalo tofu.
- Neighbourhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes is from a local foods campaigner in North America. This looks at paying homage to salads from around the world.
Grow Organic Salad Leaves & Greens
Grow Organic Salad Leaves & Greens is a book by Somerset no-dig gardening expert Charles Dowding, who grows
all his own food, without ever using a spade or fork, which keeps the earthworms and stag beetle grubs happy. If you are fed up of living on plastic-bagged limp expensive salad covered in chemicals from the supermarket, this book can show you how to grow your own fresh salads, for zero food miles. Although like Charles, you may have to accept that sometimes you’ll be sharing your lettuce with a few rogue rabbits, who happen upon your wares!
If you live with animal friends, see make your garden safe for pets, to know toxic plants to avoid. This post also covers other dangers like mulch (cocoa, pine, rubber) and slug pellets (you can deter slugs and snails using safe humane methods, no chemicals needed, which also helps wildlife to thrive).
This book is beautifully illustrated, and contains all the info you need to grow tasty salad leaves all year round, whether you have a garden, balcony or windowsill. You’ll also learn how to grow micro leaves in small spaces, using organic or permaculture principles.
- Essential know-how
- Potential of small raised beds
- Containers & window boxes
- Sowing, raising, sustaining
The Salad Calendar
- Spring, Summer
- Autumn & winter harvests
A Celebration of Leaves
- Lettuce, chicory & endive
- Oriental leaves, other winter leaves
- Spinach & chard
- Exotic ideas, herbs & flowers
- Salad Mix offers 30 seeds to make rocket, kale, green and red mustard and cress.
Try Timothy’s one-pot pasta bolognese, comfort food if there ever was! Mississippi Vegan is by talented chef Timothy, who grew up on the gulf coast, and found his heart in cooking the Cajun, Creole and southern classics. From satsuma whiskey lemonade and dirty pasta, to jambalaya anad blueberry cobbler, this is not comfort food at its best. Recipes include:
- Picnic Pasta Salad with Oregano Dill
- Salisbury Steak
- Creole Chex Mix
- Fried Pickles
- Turnip Greens
- Gumbo with Mushrooms
- Mama’s Pralines
- Blueberry Pecan Muffins
- Apple Rose Tart
- Ginger-Mint Limeade
- Hummingbird Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze