Salad Days

By Casey Seidenberg

We are up to our ears in lettuce. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I planted it. Rather, I had help planting it. My boys moved dirt, dug straight lines for seeds and attempted to place the correct seeds in the correct places. They also covered each other, and the friends they had over that day, in dirt. I’ve already apologized to those parents.

We also had some serious help from Meredith Shepherd of the organic gardening service Love & Carrots, who ensured that our city soil was nutrient-rich and that we had enough space in our yard for everything we wanted to grow. She brought us pretty little seedlings and set up protective coverings to keep out the bugs. So thanks to many hands, we have a thriving, urban vegetable garden again this year.

So what to do with all that lettuce? Make salad, of course. And that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve had salad every night, every single night. You might think two little boys and a baby would get sick of salad, but so far, so good: They are still eating. The boys claim the lettuce tastes so much better than the store-bought kind. Undoubtedly!

But what really keeps the salad train chugging are the dressings. A dressing can make or break a salad — and its health value.

A store-bought dressing will often include chemical thickening agents and emulsifiers, preservatives, highly processed oils and added sugar. Fat-free dressings can have extra sugar and other flavorings, and lack the fat we need to absorb essential vitamins that are abundant in our salads.

So below are our nutrient-rich favorites. I make a few every couple of weeks and store them in the fridge. The carrot-ginger and miso varieties pair well with salmon and sesame noodles. The tahini style is almost a meal itself. We often use it as a dip for crackers or carrots. The best part is that these dressings make setting a fresh, healthful dinner on the table utterly easy, and they keep the salad days long.


Carrot Ginger Dressing

Miso Dressing

Tahini Dressing

Flaxseed Dressing

Article first published in the Washington Post on Thursday, June 21, 2012.