Thanksgiving is next week and I’m giving you… a salad! I know, typical dietitian move, but you have to hear me out about this salad. For me, and I would assume for many of you, it is challenging to keep my diet in moderation this time of year with all of the delicious sweets and traditional, yet heavy, holiday dishes. For balance, I usually resort to eating salads each day for either lunch or dinner. After awhile though, green lettuce salads start to get a little mundane. Sure, there are lots of awesome salad recipes out there, but I can only buy so many ingredients for one person before it starts getting a little ridiculous. This Thai carrot salad is the perfect answer. I always have these ingredients in my pantry and it changes the salad pattern up just enough to keep things interesting! Another bonus is that carrots are always available, so you can make this salad year round and not have to worry about finding everything that you need.
Colin loves to remind me that “the lowest calorie salad is the one you don’t eat.” It’s not that Colin does not like vegetables, or salad for that matter, but he thinks a salad is not worth eating if it does not taste good. To his credit, salad can easily fall into the “not worth it” category. Think back to all of the salad bars you’ve ever been to at buffets or dining halls: tasteless iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, croutons, ranch dressing. It’s really not that appealing. But, being a dietitian and someone who grew up eating lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers grown in my mom and grandpa’s gardens, I love salad. As you can imagine, telling Colin that we are having salad for dinner does not always go over well. Luckily, he knows that pretty much anything I make will be good, so he doesn’t complain too much.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t tell Colin what was in this dressing the first time I made it. He was wary enough about chicken Caesar salads for dinner and I didn’t want to scare him off completely by telling him that the salad dressing was made with cashews. I have to admit, I was even a little hesitant myself. I’ve always looked for healthier options for creamy dressings, I love them, just not the calories, but I wasn’t sure if cashews would significantly change the flavor. Plus, I couldn’t find raw cashews (of course) so my only option was roasted.
As predicted, Colin and I both loved the dressing and the salad for dinner. I had warned him it was not a traditional Caesar dressing, but he didn’t comment on the “apparent” cashew flavor until after I told him what was in it. (I think if I had been able to use raw cashews like the recipe calls for, he would not have noticed.) To me, this dressing tastes exactly like Caesar dressing should: creamy, tart, slightly salty and nutty. It’s excellent on a traditional Caesar salad, but we love it for side salads or any random salads we come up with using leftovers in the fridge. Using cashews in the dressing makes it lower in calories than it’s traditional creamy counter part and it has lots of healthy fats from the cashews, rather than egg yolks or mayonnaise. I’m happy to say I finally have a creamy salad dressing I can feel good about eating.
Cashew Caesar Salad Dressing
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (roasted will work too if that is all you can find)
- 3 oil-packed anchovies
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place cashews, anchovies, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder in a food processor or blender.
- Pulse until cashews are broken up, then process until nuts are finely ground. Dressing will have a creamy consistency.
- With the processor on low speed, gradually stream in the olive oil and then water. You may need to add additional water until dressing has reached desired consistency.
- Season with black pepper, to taste.
- Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with your favorite salad.
Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats
Nutrition Panel: Serving Size: 2 tablespoons Calories: 103kcal Carbohydrate: 1g Fat: 11g Protein: 1g