By Elke Probkevitz

Making your own salad dressings at home is a great skill to learn to get you and your family eating more veggies. Homemade dressings are easy and even more delicious than the store-bought variety. Concocting fresh, all natural dressings without all the added fat, sugar, and artificial additives that are found in commercially produced dressings will make a huge difference in the nutritional value of your salads. You can monitor exactly how many calories go into your salad while keeping it full of flavor.

Balsamic Vinaigrette. Balsamic vinegar gives an added punch of flavor and sweetness without added sugar. The herbs in this dressing also add low-calorie flavor. With no oil involved, this dressing is only 14 calories per tablespoon! Combine 4 cloves minced garlic, 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp black pepper.

Lemon Vinaigrette. Citrus gives dressings a zip and punch of flavor so you can use less salt and oil. Combine 2 Tbsp fresh herbs (like basil, parsley, cilantro, and oregano), 1 Tbsp minced shallots, 1 tsp minced garlic, zest of one lemon and one lime, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard. Slowly add ¼ cup grape seed oil while whisking until dressing is thickened.

Buttermilk Dressing. A creamy, tangy dressing that can be made with nonfat buttermilk to save on fat and calories. Combine ½ cup + 1 Tbsp of nonfat buttermilk with 3 Tbsp raspberry vinegar, 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil, 1½ tsp fresh chives, and ¼ tsp minced garlic.

Creamy Herb Dressing. Another way to get a creamy dressing is by using low fat substitutes like yogurt and sour cream. Combine ½ cup fat free yogurt with ¼ cup low fat sour cream, ¼ cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed. Add 1 Tbsp mustard and 1 Tbsp minced fresh herb of your choice: basil, cilantro, mint, or tarragon.

Green Onion and Cilantro Dressing. Boosting the flavors of the dressing will make healthy dressings taste great so you won’t miss a thing. Combine ¼ cup white wine vinegar, ¼ cup lime juice, 1 cup grape seed oil, ½ tsp mustard, 1 cup green onion (blanched), ½ cup cilantro, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp white pepper in a blender.

Asian Ginger Dressing. This mixture can be used as a sauce, dressing, marinade, or dipping sauce. Combine ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger. Use for Asian salads.

Tuna Nicoise Salad



1 clove garlic

Kosher salt, to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 shallot, minced

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1 lb small new potatoes, boiled

8 oz haricot verts, blanched

12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup black Nicoise olives

8 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and drained

4 slightly under hard-boiled eggs

3 (4-oz) cans high-quality oil-packed tuna, drained

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

½ cup loosely packed basil leaves, for garnish

¼ cup thinly sliced scallions, for garnish


Mince garlic on cutting board and sprinkle with generous pinch of salt. Scrape garlic and salt together with a knife to form a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in oil, juice, mustard, shallot, salt, and pepper. Arrange all salad ingredients on large serving platter and drizzle dressing all over. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil and scallions.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to, or visiting

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