Kitchn Love Letters

This Salad Dressing Recipe Is So Good, It Changed the Way I’ll Make Salads Forever

updated Jun 22, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Credit: Ariel Knutson

I am what some people might call a Salad Person. I could eat a salad every single day for the rest of my life and be happy. You see, salad has unlimited potential. You can basically take anything you have in your fridge, put it in a bowl, and call it a salad. They can be healthy and they can be not-so-healthy. I love all of my salad creations equally (unless there’s shredded carrots, then no thank you please get that away from me).

I have gone through many phases in my life as a Salad Person. Here are some of the highlights.

  • That time growing up in Minnesota when I fully believed frozen Jell-O could be served as a salad course. Oh, and cookie salad. That’s a thing too!
  • That time in high school when the most essential element of my salad was shredded cheese.
  • That time I was vegan and became obsessed with vegan taco salad. (Curly’s, a since-closed vegetarian restaurant in New York, served theirs in a fried tortilla shell and it was the best.)
  • That time when I fell in love with the idea of using Pirate’s Booty instead of croutons.
  • That time when I moved to Los Angeles and only had a mini fridge for a month and basically just ate the Southwestern bagged salad from Trader Joe’s for every meal.
  • That time in Los Angeles (last year) when I wished I was eating the fattoush salad from local restaurant Carousel for every meal.

As you can see, I’ve come in a long way in my salad journey. I’ve eaten a lot of salads, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. But my biggest and most important lesson came just a few months ago when I started making this cilantro-lime vinaigrette from Epicurious. I don’t want to go so far to say it changed my life, but it did change my salad life (which is integral to the rest of my life).

You see, up until that fated moment I didn’t treat salad dressing with enough respect. I would make a simple mix of lemon juice and olive oil, but it wasn’t anything special, and it certainly wouldn’t dictate what I put in my salad. But ever since I’ve started making this flavor-packed vinaigrette, I’ve learned that simple salads are the best salads — and that outside of the greens (or base) of the salad, the dressing is the most important part.

A High-Effort, High-Reward Salad Dressing

To make it, you’ll mix together cilantro (I use about triple the amount needed), lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, ground coriander, and salt and pepper. While the directions say to just stir the ingredients together, I mix mine in an immersion blender so it gets super creamy. This dressing has it all: It’s herby, spicy, tangy, salty, fat-y. It hits all the notes. It reminds me of a good green goddess dressing, but a little thinned out and with a kick. And while it’s definitely more high-effort than I’m used to, it’s so good that I find myself needing far fewer salad mix-ins, which ends up saving me total salad-making time.

Whereas I used to add anything and everything to my salads, nowadays, my salads looks something like this: arugula, lime-cilantro dressing (duh), feta, and turmeric-roasted carrots. Sometimes I’ll throw in pepitas and dried cranberries. That’s it. Nothing else. I make the carrots and dressing ahead of time and just eat it throughout the week. It’s the most satisfying and delicious salad I’ve probably ever made (outside of like, caprese, and only because that’s mostly cheese).

I don’t claim to be some kind of salad expert. I’m not saying I know everything there is to know about greens and grains and the bowls we mix them in. I’m just a girl, with a really good recipe, telling you that a really good dressing has the power to change your (salad) life.

Get the recipe: Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette from Epicurious

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.