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Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette?

My husband and I went out to eat last night and tried a salad we had never tried before at the restaurant. We ate at Continental Divide in Charlottesville, VA. It was a cilantro lime vinaigrette and was by far the most delicious salad dressing I've ever had (I don't say that litely!) It was slightly tangy, but also a tad bit creamy. Just a tad though. So far I've put my finger on the following ingriedients, but in case any of you have had this dressing before and have the recipe for something similar, I would love to have it! Please post your thoughts!!
So far...
lime juice
cilantro
garlic
Others I am unsure of...
oil (canola? def was not an olive oil)
white vinegar?
honey? (could this be the creamy?)

Help me solve this mystery and enjoy this delicious dressing at home! Thanks!

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  1. Busted on the CH, Upstate Girl! That dressing must really be good-- I will have to check back to see if anyone posts recipes.

    Looking forward to lasagna tomorrow!

    1. Deborah madison in vegetarian cooking for everybody has a recipe that sounds a bit like that, but it's more tangy than creamy. If you have that cookbook, or access to it, you might look there for inspiration.

      1. Here's one I use:

        1/2 cup of lime juice
        1/4 cup of white vinegar
        1 bunch of cilantro (de-stemmed)
        2 tablespoons of honey
        2 tablespoons of brown sugar
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1-2 teaspoons of garlic, minced (depending on your taste)
        1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
        1 1/2 cups of vegtable oil (I use peanut, but any would do)
        sometimes I throw in 1/2 a seeded jalapeno

        Use a food processor to puree the lime juice, vinegar and cilantro (throw the jalapeno in here too if using). Add everything else but the oil, and mix well. Slowly drizzle the oil in, so you get a nice emulsion (I think this is where the creamy comes in, if you do it carefully).

        What kid of a salad did the restaurant serve it on?
        Makes around 2 cups

        1 Reply
        1. re: bobbyperu

          It was actually just field greens, but it didn't need much more with the yummy dressing. Thanks for your recipe.

        2. I find that the quality of the vinegar makes a hige difference too. Try to buy really high-end gourmet vinegar from Williams Sonoma or specialty food store. The quality of the vinegar will drive the quality of the whole thing.

          1. I bet if you called Continental Divide and asked they'd give you the recipe, or at least tell you what's in it. Like most of the good restaurants in Cville, it's smallish, locally owned, and a little removed from main grounds. They rely on great word of mouth, so I'm sure they'd be flattered.

            Barring that, Trader Joe's has a cilantro dressing I absolutely LOVE that you might try. And it's low calorie to boot!

            3 Replies
            1. re: charmedgirl

              Thanks for your suggestion about calling the restaurant, but I think as someone who likes to keep my own best recipes a secret, I probably won't. I think every person, and restaurant, needs to have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to the kitchen. Some may disagree but I think some recipes should be kept secret, however much we wish we had them. I'm happy to experiment and try to figure it out! Thanks!

              1. re: upstate girl

                What would be the motive for keeping a personal recipe secret? (As long as you are not a professional cook, say, in a restaurant?)
                IMO, there are no recipe "secrets" that can't easily be figured out by a curious, persistent, experienced cook.

              2. re: charmedgirl

                I'm addicted to TJ's Cilantro dressing. Look for it in the cooler near the greens.

              3. Having a recipe secret can be fun and it can also be a way of showing closeness in a family (like if your MIL gives you a secret family recipe after you marry her son!). If you're the one who has the secret recipe, it can also be nice to be known for your "famous" dish. And you're right, Anonimo, one can often figure out these "secret" recipes and may discover his or her own innovations along the way. Though Upstate Girl, if I weren't already hitched I'd be trying to marry your brother to get ahold of that anise cookie recipe!;)

                2 Replies
                1. re: Procrastibaker

                  I agree! My own family has lots of secret recipes that have been handed down from other family members. Simaliarly, my husband's Italian family has tons of secret recipes and now that we are married and I'm part of his family, it's like a right of passage to be able to learn them. It's not simply about ingriedients. It's about the process and the meanings behind the recipes. I think it's fun to try to replicate something on your own and figure out secrets but still stick to my original opinion that some secret recipes are best left unshared!

                  1. Whatever you do, don't put olive oil with lime. Lime + olive oil = nasty!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ida Red

                      I like that combination and use it often. We can seldom get yellow lemons here in Mexico (at least not in Michoacán.)

                    2. Upstate, small world!
                      That restaurant always rec's rave reviews so off we went. I took the opportunity while on vacation to ask for the recipe. Willing to wait nearly 30 mins to get the full attention of staff to write it down while my husband enjoyed dessert. Here you go:

                      Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette Recipe

                      Ingredients:
                      3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
                      3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
                      2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, they use key lime
                      1 small jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped (leave in some seeds if heat is desired)
                      1 small clove garlic, halved
                      1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
                      1/8 teaspoon honey
                      freshly ground black pepper to taste
                      1 pinch ground cumin
                      1 pinch salt, to taste
                      1 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

                      Put everything but the cilantro into a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in the cilantro, then taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Shake before serving.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        that sounds like a high ratio of acid to oil--wouldn't it be too tangy?

                      2. That is funny! Thanks so much! Guess it was not such a big secret after all! I'm surprised about the olive oil. According to Ida Red, olive oil and lime juice is not a good combo. I have no experience with the combination, except in this dressing and the dressing was delic. Thanks HillJ!

                        1. Thanks, HillJ - similar to mine, 'cept they up the acid to oil ratio, and the pinch of cumin sounds like a nice twist.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bobbyperu

                            My pleasure. The OP's question proves that a global village is actually quite small.

                          2. Here are some ideas for you to add to the salad besides the mixed greens, I had this particular salad at Firebirds Restaurant. Add diced tomatoes and sugar roasted pecans.

                            1. Here is Firebrid's exact recipe:Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing* – Yields about 1 Cup

                              1 oz. Fresh lime juice

                              1 oz. Cider Vinegar

                              1 ½ tbsp Honey

                              ½ TBSP chopped garlic

                              ½ tsp salt

                              ½ tsp pepper

                              ¼ cup fresh cilantro

                              ¼ cup olive oil

                              ¼ cup vegetable oil

                              Mix all of the ingredients together EXCEPT the oil in a blender. Slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified.

                              Combine ingredients in a bowl and toss with dressing. Serve immediately.

                              Prepare up to 1 hour ahead of time and add dressing right before serving.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mvtanito

                                I personally would not put all of the ingredients in a blender and then thrash away. I would combine in a bowl and whisk together all of the ingredients including the mustard (emulsifier) and vinegar(acid) seasonings etc, then from a decent height and while whisking slowly drizzle in the oil . This would help acheive the creaminess you are looking for and by whisking the flavours would be subtle and layered ,and you would have the chunkiness (texture) of the ingredients you bite into the greens.