Vegan Carrot-Ginger Salad Dressing

We have a new restaurant near us called Corelife Eatery.  It is not only gluten-free, but they serve real, live food!  What I mean by that is that there are so many vegetables available, bright and colorful, right in front of you as they put your order together.  It works similarly to Subway in that you can choose what you want to go in your salad, grain bowl, or broth bowl.  (Seriously, click on their link and check out their menu if you want new ideas to create your own new dishes!  They are amazing.)  While they mostly have meat options, they do have a vegan option in each category, as well as build-your-own options.  I tried a grain bowl the first time just as it was designed – no changes by me in line – with kale as the base, broccoli pieces, shredded beets and carrots, roasted tofu, quinoa, and more.  They topped it with a carrot-chili vinaigrette and shredded ginger on top of it all.  It was SO good!!  Like all restaurants, they aren’t necessarily cheap enough to eat supper there every day of the week, even for an eatery-style dining area.  So, what’s a girl supposed to do?  Create her own dressing, of course!  I mean, the salad part is easy enough.

Corelife made it simpler for me.  It has newspaper menus to take home that tell all about their delicious dishes and list what is in each of them.  (They are meticulous protecting you if you say you have an allergy, which is wonderful.)  The newspaper-menu also lists what is in their dressings.  Their carrot one starts with carrot juice.  Well, now, honestly, when I’m in the midst of the throes of making dinner, I’m not about to get out the juicer to squeeze a couple of carrots just for my dressing, only to have to clean up afterwards!  A food processor for shredding the beets is enough moving parts to wash.  I figured I could use a thicker dressing anyway.  Sooooooo, I threw a whole carrot into the blender with other stuff and gave it a whiz.  It was pretty good, but I forgot to write down exactly what I did…rats.

The next time, I made sure to write it down.  While this dressing works very well on any salad I have put it on, it tastes the best on red curly kale and alfalfa sprouts with shredded beets and avocado.  Anything else you add is…I hesitate to say this…icing on the cake.  (What a strange word picture to use about a salad….sorry.)  Cucumbers, red onion slices, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, olives all work very well.  For those of you who have never had raw shredded beets on a salad, you will be so surprised at how delicious it is!

This dressing is quite thick.  It sticks to the greens nicely.  If you want a thinner version, add more water and/or oil, or use smaller carrots.  Remember, dressings are really, really forgiving and you can add or subtract from the measurements as your tastes decree.  Don’t have flaxseed oil?  Substitute olive, or another healthy oil.  Love garlic?  Throw in another clove or two.  Prefer spicier dressings?  Add more sriracha.  Hate ginger?  Leave it out – it is still amazing.  Or put more in – but look out!  It will knock you off your chair!  If you want to get an extra, hidden veggie into your kids, try making a batch with half the garlic and no ginger so that they are happier with the flavor.  Let them dip whatever raw veggies they DO like into it.

I did not put salt in this recipe, because even a little bit seemed so salty to my taste.  I had crossed it out on my scribbled list, but thought that must be a mistake the second time I made it and added a few sprinkles.  Nope!  I figured everyone could add it directly to their salad if they wish for it.  You can always add a little to your blender if you wish.  I recommend starting with 1//8-1/4 tsp and tasting to see if you want more.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 penny-sized slice of ginger (I used 2-3 last night and it was SO strong, but delicious)
  • 1 T. flaxseed oil
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1-2 tsp liquid sweetener (I used raw honey, but Corelife uses agave)
  • juice of 1 lemon (you could use your favorite vinegar instead, but I’m not a fan of vinegar)
  • 6 T. water (if you use smaller carrots, use less water)

Throw it all into a high-powered blender and whiz for a minute or so.  You don’t want to go for too long, or it heats it up and destroys some of the nutrients, especially in the flaxseed oil.

Store in a small jar.  Mine fit in a re-purposed Trader Joe’s relish jar, which I would guess is about a cup.  (Don’t you love my exact measurements?  Sorry!)  It keeps in the frig at least a week, but mine never lasts longer than that before it is eaten up.  I recommend spooning it out of the jar, rather than pouring, because it is so thick, you can get more than you bargained for on your salad!

Quick Quinoa

You come home from ________ which took longer than you anticipated and are exhausted ~ only you remember that you still need to make supper.  No problem…you have a plan…until you open the cupboard/frig/freezer and discover a) somebody’s eaten a crucial ingredient to your plan, b) formerly mentioned crucial ingredient has spoiled, or c) you are actually missing said ingredient that you thought you picked up at the grocery store last week.  Now what?

This recipe is what ~ at least for me two nights ago!  Quinoa (pronounced keenwa) is a super fast “grain” to cook up.  (It’s actually a seed, but it’s texture and behavior is more grain-like.  It has no gluten and loads of protein.)  It adds plenty of substance to a dish for the hungry hordes who can’t subsist on haute cuisine’s small portions.

Even as I made this as a substitute for what I was supposed to make, I found out I still had an ingredient problem.  When I opened the new salsa/picante sauce jar and poured it into the measuring cup, lo and behold, it wasn’t enough!!  (I was doubling this recipe.)  I already had some of the ingredients cooking.  What was I going to do?  Then I remembered I had some cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis.  Perfect.  I was so excited that I opened the can and tossed the whole thing into the frying pan…without measuring it.  Rats.  Did I mention that I was exhausted out of my mind?  Mmm.

Well, now I figured I would have a slightly soupy mix.  I could either take the lid off and cook it all down, taking more time than I was willing to give, OR I could get some soycurls out of the freezer, snap them into small pieces, and throw them into the mix to soak up the excess.  (What are soycurls?  Read this.)  I went with the soycurls ~ just 1 c. for the doubled recipe.  Perfect!  Hubby announced that the dish needed more soycurls…go figure.  I could have left them out if I hadn’t dumped so much liquid in!

This dish can be as mild or spicy as you like, depending on the salsa, picante sauce, or canned diced tomato/green chilis you have on hand.  Serve it with soy sour cream, diced avocado, and/or shredded vegan cheese.  Add a veggie and your are set to go ~ all in about 20-30 minutes.

Quick Quinoa

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1-1 1/2 c. salsa or picante sauce, your choice of mild to hot **
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. soycurls, optional (use full measure of salsa/picante sauce if adding these.)

Saute the chopped onion in olive oil until a few pieces are beginning to brown on the edges and the rest are softened.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir and cover, simmering for 15-20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Taste quinoa to test if it is fully cooked (tiny “tails” or curls will loosen from the kernels as they reach preparedness.)  Add extra salsa or water as needed to keep from sticking if extra cooking time is required.  If it seems too soupy, take the lid off and continue simmering.

** Use 1 c. if you want a drier end result.  You can always add more salsa as the dish simmers if it seems like the quinoa isn’t soft yet, but things are getting dry.  If you want to add 1/2 c. of soycurls, use the full 1 1/2 c.