Cilantro Vinaigrette: Your Go-To Mexican Salad Dressing and Dip (Recipe)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fresh cilantro vinaigrette is ibrant, bright green, and sure to liven up any salad, of any kind.(Just ignore the crappy; it was taken before iPhones got really good and I couldn’t always catch the best lighting.)

Cilantro Dressing | #pkwayAfter yesterday’s focus on taco filling today’s natural follow-up is, of course, tacos. Well, I love tacos just as much as the next person, and everyone loves my recipe, but it’s not something I eat all that often. You’re much more likely to see me take my “big salad for dinner” concept south of the Border with a taco salad or a rice and bean bowl bursting with Mexican lavors and accoutrements.

For years I relied upon a terrific cilantro dressing from the supermarket until one day I said “Really, how hard can it be?” My recipe achieves the same flavors using just a few simple ingredients and really makes a Southwestern salad sing.(Insert favorite Mexican ditty here. Now picture some cartoon vegetables singing gaily. Or not.)

Oh, and this dressing also makes a fabulous light vegetable dip for your Cinco de Mayo festivities in case you’re thinking “Yeah, I”m not eating salad for Cinco de Mayo.”; you could mix in some yogurt or sour cream if you feel the need to thicken it up.

However you use it, this vinaigrette is a winner. And if you’re still eating naked salads, ditch the 1980s low-fat messages—that was more than thirty years ago, folks—and remember that (many) dressings are great for you for so many reasons, especially when you make them yourself. (For more info, here’s a video explaining the health benefits and you’ll also find a few other delightful vinaigrettes on my YouTube channel.)

Cilantro Vinaigrette

Ingredients. One bunch of cilantro, shallots or white onion (1/2 small, rough chop), garlic (1-2 cloves), white vinegar (balsamic or white wine), lime juice, olive (or canola) oil. Season to taste with  sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a touch of honey or agave as desired.

Instructions. Two steps, less than five minutes.

1. Add to a food processor the cilantro and vegetables (in small chunks) and purée until blended and onions and garlic are finely minced.

2. Pour in vinegar and olive oil. (Roughly 2-3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, to taste.) Blend until it looks like a vinaigrette. Taste. I usually add a squeeze of 1/4 -1/2 lime for freshness and zing and a touch of salt and pepper to bring out the flavors. A drizzle of agave or honey adds balance and body but go easy—it shouldn’t be sweet.


I was so excited when I first made this dressing. It’s just so much fun to make some of your favorite store-bought things at home, knowing you’re generally getting food that’s better for you and avoids packaging, which means a healthier you and a healthier planet.

In my book, that definitely deserves an “Olé!”

Learn more about food personality and health expert Dr. P.K. Newby, or her experience as a nutrition scientist, professor, and consultant here. You can also follow her on FB, where she is much more active than on this blog. Or, click here if you just want to ogle food porn featuring plant-based, globally-inspired cuisine.


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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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