The $8 Pantry Staple This Celebrity Chef Adds to Every Single Salad

published Apr 24, 2024
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Avocado and tomato salad.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Lauren Von Der Pool has been making salads on the fly for years. “I would go to Whole Foods and make a salad in a bag,” recalls the plant-based celebrity chef for Venus and Serena Williams, Stevie Wonder, and Common, among others, of her then-15-year-old self. “I would take whatever greens, add avocado, tomato, onion, and then ume plum vinegar and nutritional yeast — that was my salad.” 

Credit: Left to right: Charles Wallace; Lauren Von Der Pool

In the more than two decades since, the CEO, author, philanthropist, and self-described “Queen of Green” has been busy sharing her culinary magic with the masses. She’s created four-course meals for Nordstrom’s Sunday Dinner Series (Von Der Pool was recently honored by the luxury department store during Black History Month), worked on the Let’s Move! campaign with former first lady Michelle Obama, and hosts her own 21-day wellness program, aptly named Eat Yourself Sexy. Needless to say, Lauren has come a long way from selling vegan pies in Washington, D.C., where she grew up.

But no matter where she is or what she’s creating in the kitchen, you’ll find Eden Foods Ume Plum Vinegar somewhere in the mix. She’s a firm believer in not settling for dishes that don’t deliver on the flavor front. Not only does ume plum vinegar excite your taste buds, explains Lauren, but it also has several health benefits.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

Why You Should Always Have Ume Plum Vinegar in Your Pantry

“The flavor is very unique,” says Lauren. “You wouldn’t expect a vinegar to have salt.” But in addition to umeboshi plums, it’s made with “shiso leaves [that] have been cured and salted,” she explains. “So it has that saltiness, but also a bit of a tartness — it’s really so good!”

In addition to using this vinegar to dress her salads, Lauren uses it — in lieu of salt — to season some of her signature dishes. “It’s really good [for] sautéing greens, believe it or not!” she says. Whether it’s spinach, watercress, collard greens, you name it, just add a little oil and then your greens in a pan for a light sauté, and finish it with a couple of dashes of the vinegar. 

It’s also a key ingredient in her vegan mac and cheese and signature garlic aioli dipping sauce, made with vegan mayo, onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and the vinegar, added to taste. She does advise keeping the tartness of the ume plum vinegar’s flavor profile in mind and adjusting measurements based on the dish you’re making, though.

Buy: Eden Foods Ume Plum Vinegar, $7.99 for 10 ounces at Instacart

What pantry staple have you been buying for decades? Tell us about it in the comments below.