It may just be the vegan in me, but I think salads get a bad rap. No one wants to opt for a salad when there are so many more filling, warm and comforting options. But that’s because the salads we’re used to follow the same vanilla format: watery iceberg lettuce, flavorless tomatoes, cucumbers and a lame salad dressing.

Which is why I’ve taken it upon myself to reinvent the salad.

I incorporate herbs and different kinds of fresh lettuces to deepen the flavor profile, sprinkle on a warm protein like crispy tempeh  to make it more filling, and I make my own vegan salad dressing.  I’ve tinkered with my recipe for a few years, and finally found the goldilocks ratio of sweetness, a touch of acidity and a creamy smoothness that makes this the perfect dressing for any salad.  And best of all, it only has four essential ingredients.

Alana Williams

Vegan Salad Dressing:

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar 

1 Tablespoon vegan mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast

Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, I start with the olive oil, about three tablespoons for a medium salad.  This darling of the Mediterranean diet has all the healthy fats your heart desires.  Then I add equal parts white balsamic vinegar for that bite of acidity (it has to be balsamic, it won't mix right otherwise).  For the creaminess, I lop in a tablespoon of vegan mayo and start whisking. While that would be good on its own, the pièce de résistance is a tablespoon of nutritional yeast, (or Nooch as my friends and I call it). Nutritional yeast is a must-have for vegans since it can be sprinkled on anything to give it a mild cheesy flavor, and it’s high in Vitamin B-12, an important vitamin rarely found in the plant kingdom. You can find it at most health food stores in the bulk or seasoning section.  From there, it’s up to personal preference how you want to season your dressing, but a dash of salt and pepper is a safe bet if you haven’t ventured far into your spice cabinet.

Whisk until it has a thick consistency and you're done!  Drizzle it right on your salad, or it can keep for about a week in the fridge for all your meal-planning needs. But honestly, this sauce is so good, salads are just the beginning.

I’ve been using my leftover dressing on quinoa bowls, or add a bit more mayo and it’s a perfect condiment on veggie burgers and wraps.

Play around with your own salad dressing recipe, you could substitute in apple cider vinegar for the acid, cashew cheese instead of mayo and endless kinds of oil like avocado oil! No matter what you mix, it's guaranteed to be healthier than the gums, emulsifiers, preservatives and artificial sweeteners added to store-bought dressings.  And whether you're newly vegan or just want to eat healthier, you'll be amazed how much easier it is to eat your greens when they taste this good.