With abundant produce in the markets, summer is a great time to create your own salad. Forget about buying ready-made salad dressings. It is easy to create your own. Once you taste your own homemade dressing, you will never want any bottled salad dressing again. The fact that you can create any kind of dressing in small batches and not have to buy a whole bottle and try to finish it is a big plus.

Experiment with a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables to toss in the dressing. Salads need not be just plain old lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and bell peppers. Try mixing up the greens with arugula or watercress for a little bitterness and peppery bite, tame it down with butter lettuce and even iceberg. Mix baby lettuce and spinach gives a salad body. Add texture with jicama, cabbage, fresh fruits, avocados, waterchestnuts, and many others. For crunch, toast a variety of nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower and even flax seeds. For hardier meal, add grilled fish, beef, chicken or shrimp.

The hardest part of making a salad sometimes can be finding the right dressing or dressing that will inspire you to eat a salad! Here are a few salad dressings to help stir up your creative juices. Go ahead. Create away and eat your salad!

Mexican Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 minced garlic clove

1/2 minced jalapeno (opt)

Place all ingredients in bowl. Whisk until well blended. Use a variety of greens, sliced jicama, avocados, pumpkin seeds, or whatever ingredients you have on hand. To make it  hardier, add grilled steak, roast chicken or even grilled salmon.


Lowfat Mayonnaise-Yogurt Dressing

1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon low fat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together until well blended in bowl. Great over any mixed greens. Used a variety of greens with different texture and flavor, i.e., arugula, romaine, butter lettuce, or even red cabbage, etc. Add some fruits to the salad and whatever toasted nuts available.


Tomato Vinaigrette

3 tablespoon tomato juice

2 tablespoon Sherry or red wine vinegar

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon each salt, sugar and pepper

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Place ingredients in boil or food processor and mix to blend. Great over chopped salads with cucumbers, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, summer squashes, and mixed greens.


Asian Dressing

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon minced gingerroot

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together. Great over spinach, variety of greens, topped with oranges, jicama, sliced radish, fried wonton strips for crunch or sesame seeds.