The Delicious Dressings That Turned Me Into a Salad Lover

published Nov 3, 2022
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tropical grain salad on a plate
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

I’m not really a salad evangelist, unless you’re talking about panzanella or caprese, or if by “salad,” you mean the L and T that’s often topped with B and sandwiched between two pieces of toast. However, in an attempt to get myself back on the post-pandemic #healthgrind, I’ve made an effort to incorporate some more leafy greens into my diet. And, it’s not that I don’t like veggies — quite the opposite, actually. I eat tons of peppers, broccoli, asparagus, and other foods my mother shilled for when I was a kid, but I’ve just never been a fan of raw greens unceremoniously plopped on a plate. Salad always seemed like an afterthought, or the thing you had to eat to appease your internal organs before you could tear into a steak or a bowl of pasta. Turns out, though, I was just doing it wrong. 

The first thing that began to change my mind about salads was getting a solid salad spinner, since one of the keys to a really tasty, texturally appealing salad is dry ingredients. After washing your greens, it’s crucial to run them through a spinner or (at least) toss them onto some paper towels a few times, since wet, limp lettuce does not make for a particularly appetizing meal. The next step: Get yourself some good dressing. If you’re going the oil-and-vinegar route, make sure you’re using the highest-quality oil you can, and a vinegar that complements whatever you’re whacking into your bowl. (In other words, one that’s more interesting than Heinz Distilled White.) Lately, though, I’ve found myself skipping the homemade dressings and reaching for what’s quickly becoming a pantry staple in my apartment: SideDish

SideDish is the brainchild of New York Times bestselling author and food blogger Alex Snodgrass, and is made with simple, high-quality ingredients — which definitely comes across in the taste and texture of the dressings. With flavors including Chipotle Ranch, Honey Dijon, and Creamy Sesame, you’d be hard-pressed to find a salad these wouldn’t go well with. Plus, while I hesitate to call it a “health food,” as far as premixed dressings go, these really aren’t all that bad, which is surprising, considering how delicious they are. 

Credit: Ian Burke

It’s hard to pick a favorite flavor, since they’re all so versatile and equally great for different meals. For its intended purpose — putting on salads — my go-to bottle is the Honey Dijon, and my go to application, believe it or not, is drizzling it over some butter lettuce next to a French omelet in the morning. (Yes, I can do those now, thanks to my fancy new nonstick pan.) However, salads aren’t the only thing these dressings are good on. I love adding the Creamy Sesame to stir fry dishes and coleslaw, and for sandwiches and burgers, the Chipotle Ranch is unbeatable. In fact, there are plenty of recipes on the SideDish site that incorporate the dressings in unique ways, with meals ranging from, of course, a slew of salads to more ambitious plates such as creamy sesame noodles, shrimp tacos, and a hibachi-inspired stir fry. (There’s also a chipotle ranch burger — I knew I was onto something with that one.)

No matter what you put these dressings on, though, you’re sure to love it. They’re easy, affordable, and the variety pack takes up less room in your fridge than three bottles of beer. And, while it’s true that you could attempt to whip up your own version of these at home, my advice: Leave it to the pros — you won’t regret it. 

Buy: Side Dish Multipack, $28.85