Be Honest: You Hate Your Lunch Salad — But You Don't Have To

Photo: Courtesy of Lucky Peach.
I’m not a strictly DIY person — there’s a place in all of our lives for store-bought peanut butter and yogurt and bread and many other delicious things. But I do believe there’s a time in your life to leave the comfort of the premade bottled salad dressings and start to live in a make-your-own-salad-dressing universe. They taste better. They offer you a modicum of control over the world and a kind of authorship of the (vegetable-based) events in your life.

But I also know that the road gets lonely and dark sometimes; you feel like you just can’t shake up another empty Grey Poupon jar of your signature mustard vinaigrette, and you need options. Here I am, at the onset of short days and shrinking farmers' markets, to say: Stay the course. Make your own.

Here are seven easy-peasy, make-at-home salad dressings from Lucky Peach's new cookbook, Power Vegetables! — to expand your repertoire and keep you away from the bottle.
1 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Vaguely Korean Salad Dressing (Over Watercress)
A little bit like kimchi (but not as assertive), a little bit like every Korean condiment you’ve ever wished you knew how to make. This vaguely Korean salad dressing shines over a mix of watercress and sliced apples, but can just as easily brighten up tofu, too.
Advertisement
2 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Caesar Salad Dressing (Over Romaine)
There are few marriages of sauce and subject more perfect in all the vegetable kingdom than romaine and Caesar dressing. Ours is not quite traditional, though it’s not quite a gas-station-squeeze-pack level of debasement — it’s a Caesar-dijonnaise that will make your lettuce proud.
3 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Blue Cheese Dressing (Over Iceberg)
What is a “superfood” anyway? We think iceberg lettuce — crisp, cool, crunchy — is pretty super. Combined with a high-protein dressing made from blue cheese and a scattering of low-sugar bacon crumbles, who are we to say this isn’t the healthiest salad in this roundup? (Just go with it.)
4 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Korean Caprese Salad
This is an update of a classic caprese, but it is reliably more delicious than said classic salad (sesame oil hides many ills, like the out-of-season tomatoes in this picture), and something about it feels elemental and predestined. Make it in the summer when the tomatoes are ripe, and win at life. Start figuring out where you’re getting your shiso (or the seeds to grow it from) now, or omit them altogether, and your friends will never be any the wiser!
5 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Kale Salad Dressing (Over Kale, Duh)
Fifteen years ago, kale was nothing, kale was nobody, kale was something planted in decorative winter window boxes. Now, jeez, kale. Kale kale kale kale. It’s the Jenner-Kardashian clan of the cabbage family; all kinds of kale are hot. This is the corporate-juice-bar way of dressing kale these days. Namaste.
6 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Guasacaca (Over Kale & Grain)
You like guacamole; everybody likes guacamole. Guasacaca is its Venezuelan cousin, and it's totally worth getting to know, too. Traditionally, it’s a sauce for steak, but we got to know it as a dip with plantain chips at Caracas, a restaurant in the East Village in New York. These days, we’ve been using it to dress up bowls of grains and kale.
7 of 8
Photographed by Kristina Bornholtz & Walter Green.
Tomato Vinaigrette (Over Butter Lettuce)
Tomatoes take a star turn as dressing here, helped along handily by a box grater. Say goodbye to that bottled shit from the supermarket: Mama’s little helper just moved in.

Get more powerful recipes from Lucky Peach's new cookbook, Power Vegetables! Designed to bring big-league flavor to your weeknight cooking, the recipes in this book feature trusted strategies for adding oomph to produce with flavors that will muscle meat out of the picture. It's a portfolio of meat-free cooking that even carnivores can get behind!
8 of 8
Advertisement