DIY Salad Dressings

Lauren Silva

As your New Year’s resolution to experiment with healthy, plant-based meals continues, you may be in need of a little extra inspiration. Often times, people assume healthy foods must taste bland and boring, however, it’s just the opposite. At DEFINE foods, we take local, seasonal produce and transform them into meals that highlight the food’s natural flavor while adding flair and zest with different texture and spice combinations.

If you’re looking to enjoy more healthy meals, but don’t know where to start, look no further. A vibrant and delicious meal doesn’t have to be difficult, nor require a long list of ingredients. In fact, sometimes all you need is the right dressing to transform a simple platter of carrots to a warm, tantalizing appetizer everyone can enjoy. So say goodbye to boring salads and flavorless sides because we’re sharing three DEFINE foods DIY dressings that will take your meal to the next level.

Part of the fun and creative process of cooking is trying out new flavor combinations you’ve never had before. One ingredient that we love cooking with is miso. As you see below, it’s a component in two of the three dressing recipes. It’s a sweet-salty paste made from fermented soybeans that can add a great depth of flavor with just one ingredient. You can find miso located in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, and believe us, it’s worth picking up.

Ginger-Tahini Dressing:

This bright dressing is extremely versatile, however, we think it would pair great with a quinoa + veggie stir fry. Try sauteing your favorite veggies while your quinoa cooks, putting everything in a big bowl once complete. Coat the contents with our Ginger-Tahini Dressing, tossing to combine fully. Serve with fresh herbs, toasted nuts, and within 20 minutes, you have a delicious dinner on the table.


  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp sweet miso
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste

To make the dressing, place all ingredients except for the oil in a blender or Vitamix and blend away. Slowly add the oil in while the blender is going from the opening at the top until smooth and well combined. Add more water, if needed, to achieve desired thickness. Add sea salt to your liking. The dressing should be creamy, but able to drizzle from a spoon, not too think.

Miso-Sesame Dressing:

Sesame oil has a very distinct flavor, and it’s one that we love. While often associated with strictly asian-inspired meals, sesame oil can be used in a variety of dishes. Our Miso-Sesame Dressing has depth from the miso, sweetness from the maple syrup, and warmth from the sesame oil. It’s an all-in-one showstopper of a dressing that we simply love drizzling over roasted root vegetables. Roast your carrots, turnips, beets, and/or cabbage with a olive oil, salt and pepper, until fork tender. Arrange the still-warm veggies on a platter and drizzle the dressing all over the top. This plant-based side dish will have you licking the plate clean.


  • 1/4 cup mellow miso
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp nama shoyu (or good-quality soy sauce)
  • 1-4 Tbsp water

To make the dressing, whisk together the miso, olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, maple, and shoyu. Slowly add in the water until you reach desired consistency.

Bright + Herbaceous Dressing:

When we hear the word “dressing” we often immediately think of green, lettuce-heavy salads. For these meals, we recommend using this Bright + Herbaceous Dressing. Tossing arugula, spinach, watercress, or baby kale with this punchy dressing will provide the perfect base for all the toppings your heart desires. Try folding in a grain and/or chopped veggies (even avocado!) and you’ll have a deliciously satisfying salad ready to be enjoyed.


  • 1 cup parsley, packed plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp ume vinegar, or other vinegar of choice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the dressing, combine parsley, ginger, 1/2 the garlic, and the roughly chopped 1/2 of the shallot in a mini food processor. Pulse to chop. Add the mustard, vinegar and water. While running, add in 4 Tbsp olive oil until well combined. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

With these flavor-packed dressings, you'll be able to enjoy different variations of your favorite foods with each of these healthy and delicious DIY dressings.

Recipes by Chef Erin Stewart ©

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