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Creamy salad dressings

So, I usually dress my salads with a simple balsamic vinaigrette: EVOO, balsamic, a touch of dijon mustard and salt & pepper. However, my soon-to-be-husband recently revealed that he prefers creamy salad dressings ("oh, but of course I love YOUR vinaigrette dear!" - eye roll).

Anyway, a couple of wrinkles in this: One, I've never ventured into making creamy dressings from scratch, and am not a huge fan of most commercial ones I've tried (Kraft ain't going to cut it, if I have to eat it on a regular basis).

And two: soon-to-be-husband has diabetes (Type I - not a reflection on his lifestyle) and high cholesterol (genetics, supplemented by hearty doses of bacon). So I need some relatively healthy stuff and *definitely* no egg yolks.

What's a girl to do? If anyone's got a recipe for semi-healthy creamy salad dressings, or know of a semi-palatable commercial one, I would love to hear about it.

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  1. As long as you have an emulsify agent, like mustard, and some good blending power, you can whip enough air and oil into a dressing so that it is deceivingly creamy, with no egg yolks or cream.

    1. Use low-fat Greek yogurt as your base, or low-fat buttermilk. Or, if you don't mind going more healthnut-ish, use puréed silken tofu.

      1. A second for using yogurt or buttermilk. I actually have been doing a yogurt-lemon-parsley dressing frequently lately that has gone over quite well.

        1. The sushi place I love the most (Yo's in Bernal Heights, San Fancisco) makes a heavenly salad dressing. It's like a thousand island, but with tahini instead of mayo. Ketchup, chili podwer, horseradish (or wasabi) tahini and, I would assume, some rice wine vinegar to water it down. Granted, I have been trying to reverse engineer it in my head for a while now. Every time I ask, the woman tells me things that make no sense. Like that the potently sesame dressing doesn't have tahini, sesame seeds, or sesame oil in it. I got myself some tahini today, though, and plan to have it figured out by my s/o's b-day in three weeks.

          I can'r say that it's a whole lot of healthy, but I think it's mostly good fats--- the tahini just really makes it stick to the leaves and taste gorgeous. Have y'all taked greens yet? Because the only greens that I think can take this kind of creamy dressing is plain ol' crisp-as-can-be iceburg.

          1. This is my favorite:

            Blue Cheese Sauce:
            1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
            2 tablespoons buttermilk
            1/2 cup light sour cream
            1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
            Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. With the back of the mixing spoon, mash the blue cheese into the sour cream until almost all of the lumps are gone. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

            1. Hey guys,

              These recipes all sound fab. I especially like the idea of using yogurt - I'm in love with Fage's 0% greek yogurt lately, maybe I'll do some messing around with that.

              1. Creamy dressings are usually lower in calories than vinaigrettes because the fats used have significantly less fat per unit of volume than oil. Nothing is more fatty than oil (because it is a pure fat) on a per unit basis. Even heavy cream has half the fat of oil on a per unit basis! Sour cream less than that. Yogurt too. Buttermilk the least of the typical suspects.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Karl S

                  I totally hear you there, dude, but it's not calories I'm looking out for, it's cholesterol & saturated fat, you know, the stuff that's bad for your heart. Vegetable oil has zero, while animal products (dairy, eggs) definitely do. But thanks!

                2. Tofu is a great base for creamy salad dressing, as long as there are some strong flavors to cover up the slight soybean taste.

                  I'm currently addicted to Alton Brown's "Guilt-free" Caesar dressing. It's slightly different from a real caesar dressing, but it's really good.


                  I add anchovy paste (2 tsp) and fresh-squeezed lemon juice (half a lemon or so), and I ease up on the garlic (1 clove) and dijon mustard (1 or 2 tsp). Oh, and last time I forgot to put in any oil, and it was fine - in fact, I liked it better. So it's a great almost-fat-free dressing, too!


                  1. AnneInNotStPaul is right... Creamy dressings are a wonderful way to incorporate tofu into a low glycemic diet.

                    A stick blender for a quick "make it in the storage jar" lessens cleanup.

                    It doesn't take much oil to give a good familiar mouthfeel to tofu dressings.

                    For "tang" from lactic acid, as in ranch dressing, add yogurt, or drained yogurt for creamier,
                    or buttermilk, or buttermilk powder for less moisture/creamier. For asian, add sesame oil, ginger, miso, etc.

                    Possibilities are unlimited once you get the hang of making the tofu slurry. A google for "tofu dressing" will get you started.

                    1. Yum, yum...
                      I'm not averse to tofu, so I'll have to give that "slurry" thing a try. I don't have an immersion blender, but the generic "magic bullet" I have might do the trick. And def. going to try the caesar recipe too!