No-Sacrifice Tahini-Dill Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Tahini-Dill dressing 16x9.jpg

At only 29 calories per tablespoon (compared to at least 75 or 80 for most dressings), this no-oil tahini-based dressing offers full flavors that can stand up to and complement many different types of salad. 

Makes about 1.5 cups

Blend the following ingredients together in a blender or in a container with an immersion (stick) blender until smooth. 

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 3/4 cup water  

  • 3/8 cup tahini   

  • 3/8 cup silken tofu

  • 4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

Add the dill and blend just a few second to distribute it into the entire mixture. 

  • 1/4 cup packed fresh dill or 1 Tablespoon dried dill

Transfer the dressing to a glass or plastic container and chill. The dressing may appear too thin when you first make it. It will thicken up overnight in the refrigerator. Chill. It will keep 7-10 days in the refrigerator. 

Timing: Under 15 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food minimally processed; WFPBNO


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Snow Pea, Asparagus, and Pasta Salad with Sesame Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Snowpea and Asparagus Salad.jpg

I started this recipe inspired by a dish in Jeanne Lemlin’s “Main-Course Vegetarian Pleasures.” I made a lot of changes to get the sugar and oil out, plus I thought snow peas would be a good addition. There are so many great flavors and textures in this salad—your mouth will have a great time! The Asian-inspired dressing is mellow and satisfies that sweet-sour craving many of us have.

Makes about 8 cups (6 servings)

See last ingredient in the recipe, roasted almonds. Begin roasting them if they are not already roasted. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Make sure the asparagus and snow peas are prepped. Add the pasta to the water and cook for all but the last 4 minutes of the cooking time (e.g., if directions say 9 minutes to al dente, boil them for 5 minutes before adding the asparagus). 

  • 8 ounces whole grain pasta (I used whole wheat rotini—corkscrew—pasta)

Then add the asparagus to the pot, bring quickly back to a boil, and boil 2 minutes.

  • 1 pound asparagus, bottoms peeled, then cut diagonally into 1.5-inch pieces

Then add the snow peas to the pot, bring quickly back to a boil, and boil 1 minute. Then drain the whole mixture under very cold water to stop further cooking.

  • 8 ounces snow peas, sliced once on the diagonal

Dressing. Blend all dressing ingredients in a Nutribullet or with an immersion (stick) blender and blend until the dates are dissolved.

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 3 Tablespoons Chinese roasted sesame paste 

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 5 medium dates (or 3 Medjool dates), soaked if hard (or 1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar)

  • Freshly ground pepper

Bringing it all together. Toss the pasta and vegetables with the following ingredients and the dressing. 

  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Best served at room temperature, but chilled tastes good too!

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta is used

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Colorful Kale and Rice Salad

By the Gracious Vegan

Kale and Rice Salad 16x9.jpg

This healthy salad will fill you up and satisfy your taste buds. There’s no oil or other processed ingredients. A good amount of protein comes from the almonds and sesame seeds, there’s fiber from the brown rice and vegetables, and dozens of micronutrients come from the kale, one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. And did I mention it’s delicious?

Makes 8 cups

Cook rice per package directions. (I like to use the Instant Pot: 1 cup brown rice, 1.5 cups water, pressure release handle in “Sealing” position, 22 minutes on “Manual” setting, 10-minute “Natural Release.”) Let the rice cool for at least 10 minutes. 

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice

  • 2 cups water (or 1.5 cups with the Instant Pot)

Gently toss the cooled rice with the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

  • 5-6 large kale leaves (about 6 ounces), ribs removed, chopped and massaged until they just start to wilt

  • 3 cups shredded or chopped red cabbage (1/4 of a small head)

  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated

  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds (whole or chopped) (tamari almonds work well)

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, or 4 teaspoons dried dill

  • 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds (you can roast raw sesame seeds in a skillet for a few minutes)

Dressing. Whisk the following ingredients together in a small bowl (or in a mini chopper, starting with the garlic). 

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard (or another mustard to your liking)

Drizzle the dressing over the rice mixture and toss.

The flavors definitely need time to mingle; otherwise the lemon juice and soy sauce can stand out too strongly. I recommend at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. This last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About an hour, unless you have cooked brown rice on hand



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Noodle-Vegetable Salad with Peanut-Sesame Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Noodle-Vegetable Salad with Peanut-Sesame Dressing.jpg

This delicious salad is also filling. I tried to evoke the taste of cold sesame noodle appetizers in many Chinese restaurants. Using roasted sesame paste and dates lets you avoid added sugar and processed fats. The gorgeous colors of the vegetables make this incredibly attractive. Good thing the taste doesn't disappoint expectations.

Makes 12 cups

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

  • 4 ounces soba noodles

Gently stir the cold noodles together with the following vegetables in a large bowl. 

  • 4-5 green onions, green and white parts, sliced into thin rounds

  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced or diced

  • 1 small purple or green cabbage (or half of a larger head) (about 1 pound), core removed and then thinly shredded or sliced

  • 2 medium or large carrots, grated

  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

  • (You can also substitute a pound of store-bought slaw mix for the cabbage and carrots)

Peanut-sesame dressing. Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth. The mixture should be thick but drizzly; if it's too thick, blend in additional water in 1-Tablespoon increments. 

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (or, better, roasted sesame paste, available from Asian grocery stores)

  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 4 medium dates (softened if they are dry) or 2 Tablespoons date sugar

  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

Combine and garnish. Toss the dressing with the noodles and vegetables. It is ready to serve or can be refrigerated for up to a few hours (or more, but the dressing begins to soak into the noodles). Serve salad with one or more of the following garnishes.

  • Coarsely chopped peanuts

  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Timing: About 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if 100% buckwheat noodles used

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Jill's Oil-Free Creamy Sunflower Dressing (or Sauce)

By Jill Schatz

Jill is a leader in Northwest Veg, the largest membership organization for vegans and vegetarians in Portland, OR. She brought this dressing with a green salad to a recent potluck, and my attraction to it was immediate. I was astounded to learn that the recipe called for a kumquat! Jill buys them at Asian markets when they're in season and freezes them for uses like this. The dressing is great without a kumquat, whew. The dressing can also be used a sauce for steamed or roasted winter squash or sweet potatoes, or for whole-meal bowls with grains, cooked vegetables, protein (tofu, tempeh, seitan, etc.), and garnishes.

Pre-soak sunflower seeds for 20 minutes in the orange juice in a blender, unless using a VitaMix, in which case no soaking is needed.

  • 1/3 cup raw or roasted sunflower seeds

  • 2/3 cup orange juice

Add remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth; add water if needed, to desired consistency.  It will thicken up as it sits, and may need more liquid added if kept more than a few hours.

  • 2 Tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice

  • 1 -2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (a really sweet, syrupy one like Napa Valley cherry wood aged, Grand Reserve)

  • 1 clove garlic (fresh or roasted)

  • 1-2 teaspoons minced onions or shallots

  • 1-2 teaspoons mellow white miso

  • 1-2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar (or salt to taste)

  • 1 kumquat (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)

  • Water to pouring consistency, if needed

Use up within one week.

Timing: 15 minutes (longer if you have to pre-soak the sunflower seeds)

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Peanut Dressing

By Bon Appetit

Link to Peanut Dressing recipe.

GV comments: I found this when preparing to lead a demonstration on oil-free vegan dressings. Peanut butter is a natural for oil-free dressings, because peanuts are naturally rich in "good fats," and, when blended with water and other ingredients, peanut butter creates a dressing with a superb texture. This recipe is a bit on the bland side, so I recommend adding cilantro, sriracha sauce, and/or chili paste. It tastes great with a cabbage-heavy salad, because the sweetness of the dressing complements the slight sourness of the cabbage. And it's very fast to make.

Timing:  5-10 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the tablespoon of sugar



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No-Oil Carrot Ginger Dressing

By Hello Nutritarian

Link to No-Oil Carrot Ginger Dressing recipe.

GV comments: This comes a fan of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who describes himself on Facebook  as "Family physician, NY Times best-selling author, nutritional researcher and expert on nutrition and natural healing." He advocates eating micronutrient-rich foods, essentially a whole-food plant-based diet. This dressing is quite flavorful, colorful, and perfect on a crispy chilled salad. 

Timing: 10-15 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Gracious Vegan No-Oil Caesar Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Photo by  Sharon on flickr

I adapted this from The Plant Pure Kitchen, by Kim Campbell, with an inspiration (the ground almonds, capers, and caper brine) from Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. There is no sacrifice on this one. You don't say, "Wow, this doesn't taste anything like a version with oil." Now, if you miss the anchovies, I can't help you there, but the capers and caper brine give this a lot of flavor. 

Makes just over 2 cups

Pulse in a blender until the mixture resembles parmesan cheese. Set aside

  • 1/3 cup slivered or sliced blanched almonds

Blend in a blender for several minutes until smooth

  • 2 Tablespoons raw cashews (pre-soaked by pouring boiling water over them, covering them, waiting 20 minutes, then draining--not needed if you have a high-speed blender like a VitaMix)

  • 4 ounces extra-firm tofu

  • 1/3 cup water

  • Add these and pulse until blended

  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 4 teaspoons caper brine

  • 1 Tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or more to taste)

Then add these and pulse to break them up but not completely pulverize them. 

  • 1 Tablespoon capers

Mix in the almonds by hand and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. It will need some time (at least an hour) to firm up. 

Timing: About 25 minutes, including the pre-soak

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Sanctuary Dip

By Isa Chandra [Moskowitz]

Link to Sanctuary Dip recipe

GV comments: In quest of good vegan dips, I found this one, and because it was from Isa Moskowitz, I tried it. Little did I know that this recipe would fulfill my quest for the holy grail -- an oil-free vegan ranch dressing that sacrifices none of the flavor or texture of mayonnaise-based dressing. Wouldn't you know it that she combined tofu and raw cashews? The first time I made this, it came out runny, and my guests and I had to put a hand under our carrot and celery sticks to keep the drips from hitting the carpet. It took that first evening to realize that I didn't have an annoyingly drippy dip on my hands: I had a perfect ranch salad dressing! Woo hoo! It's very important to blend this for at least a minute and a half (that's what it takes with my Kitchen Aid blender). It may take less with a Vitamix or more with other blenders. The cashews really need to get the dissolved state so that the dressing is perfectly smooth (except for the dried dill, which is added at the end). 

Timing: once the cashews have soaked for 2 hours, it only takes 10-15 minutes.

Nutrition: only a teaspoon of agave nectar keeps this from being 100% whole-food unprocessed; so much better than oil-based dressings


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Green Goddess Garlic Dressing

By Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Link to Green Goddess Garlic Dressing recipe (on Tracy's Living Cookbook site)

GV comment: Starting a year ago, I began a quest to find more oil-free salad dressing recipes. I have tested dozens. The number of recipes I want to make over and over again? Two. This is one of them. The chives provide a mild onion flavor that blends nicely with the garlic and nutritional yeast's cheesiness. The tahini and miso provide a wonderful base. I'm going to plant chives in a pot or in a flower bed once the weather warms up so that I always have them. This recipe comes from Isa's Appetite for Reduction cookbook, which is available used at very low prices. 

Timing: 10-15 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Gracious Vegan Oil-Free Tahini Dressing

By The Gracious Vegan

I've had this recipe a long time (I don't know where I first got it), and I fiddled with it a number of times before getting the balance I like. I don't play with it anymore -- I like it just fine now, thank you. This is one of the few oil-free dressings I like. It's difficult to make a tasty oil-free dressing. Believe me, I've tried a lot of recipes. If you don't like this dressing, try searching for other no-oil tahini-based dressings: there's probably a taste combination out there that will please you. Tahini is the perfect base for an oil-free dressing because it's thick and viscous--it creates a creaminess without cream or oil. 

Blend the ingredients together in a blender, food processor, or in a container with an immersion blender. 

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar

  • 2 garlic cloves (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)

  • 3 Tablespoons water (you may need to add more to achieve your desired consistency)

Timing: Very fast, maybe 5 minutes if you use bottled lemon juice and garlic powder 

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Spinach Salad with Curry Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Spinach Salad with Curry Dressing square.jpg

I don’t know exactly where I found the original version of this recipe. This always pleases, no matter where I take it. Don’t skip the dry vermouth in the dressing—it is crucial for the unique taste.

Toss together

  • One bag baby spinach (8-10 oz.)

  • 1 green apple, diced

  • 1/3 cup peanuts or walnuts, toasted

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

  • 1/2 bunch scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin

Make the dressing. Use an immersion blender or small blender to blend all the ingredients together.

  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 1 Tablespoon dry vermouth

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the vermouth and the agave nectar


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Gracious Vegan Mexican Salad with Creamy Lime-Cumin Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Mexican Salad square.jpg

I made this up when I took a homemade lunch every day to my corporate job. I needed a lot of fuel to get through the afternoon, so when I made salads, they needed to have a lot of substance. You can substitute, add, and delete the salad components as you wish. The cumin flavor is strong, so decrease the ground cumin if you don’t want it as strong.

Makes about 1 cup of dressing

Creamy lime-cumin dressing. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

  • 1/2 cup tofu of any kind

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 teaspoons sugar or agave nectar (or 2 small dates)

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Toss with salad components

  • Lettuce for 4-5 salad servings

  • Chopped onion to taste

  • “Carolina Saffron Yellow Rice Mix” prepared as directed (I buy the small foil packet, and that is enough for 4-5 servings); there are other brands (like Mahatma), but some brands (like Vigo) contain dehydrated chicken

  • Pinto or black beans beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)

  • Chopped cilantro

  • Chopped tomatoes

  • If available, avocado and/or jicama

Timing: The dressing can be made in under 10 minutes

Nutrition: The dressing is whole-food unprocessed, WFPBNO


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Slaw with Garlicky Mustard Dressing

By the Gracious Vegan

I remembering finding this in a women’s magazine, but I can’t recover my source when I search the internet. Wherever it came from, it’s a good, solid cabbage salad that’s tangier than regular coleslaw. A great side dish next to many different main dishes.

 In large bowl, combine

  • 6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 small red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on an angle

For the dressing, whisk together

  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

Toss well the slaw and dressing together and serve immediately or refrigerate for later. 

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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Waldorf Salad for Four

By the Gracious Vegan

My mom made Waldorf salad for us quite often. We grew up in California and had no idea that there was a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It just sounded like a classy name to us. It’s still a great salad. Some people serve it on a lettuce leaf or bed of lettuce, but I don’t like adding that texture to this crunchy salad.

Mix together and serve

  • 4 celery stalks, sliced or diced

  • 2 apples, diced (I like sweet, crispy apples for this salad)

  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

  • 1/3 cup raisins (or halved grapes)

  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon vegan mayonnaise

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food



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By Moosewood Cookbook

Link to recipe here.

GV comments:  Mollie Katzen of Moosewood Restaurant got this one right thirty years ago; no need to update this take on the Middle Eastern staple in my opinion. I prefer less parsley than this (and most recipes) calls for, so decide for yourself. This goes well with a lot of dishes and is a great brown-bag-lunch dish as well. 

Timing: Over 2 hours

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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Rice and Black Bean Salad with Cumin Dressing

By Cooking Light

Link to recipe here.

GV comments: This is a colorful and flavorful salad that's perfect for so many occasions: a potluck, a holiday barbecue, a Mexican buffet, a family dinner (with a tortilla soup, perhaps?). The base flavors are great, and you can improvise on the add-ins, depending on your and your family's tastes. 

Timing: 30-60 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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Couscous Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Couscous Salad with Lime-Ginger Dressing.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan

GV comments:  This salad is lovely to look at and then to eat. The title may make it sound too spicy for your crowd, but don't worry. My reluctant-vegan husband loved it on first bite. We paired it with the Coconut Curry Lentil Soup and went to nirvana! 

Makes a lot (9-10 cups)

Place these in a large bowl. 

  • 1.5 cup couscous (whole wheat if you can find it) (available at Trader Joe's)

  • ½ cup raisins (golden or black)

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Pour in 2 cups of boiling water, stir quickly, then tightly cover with foil or a large plate. Let sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Cover again and let sit 5 more minutes. Fluff again.

Then stir the following ingredients into the couscous mixture.

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into small dice

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1.5 cups frozen peas, thawed

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted nuts (cashews, pecans, pistachios, etc.)

  • 1/3 cup slivered or chopped red onion

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes, depending on size)

  • 1/4 cup water (or olive oil if you want a richer salad)

  • 2-3 Tablespoons (packed) finely chopped cilantro

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

  • Freshly ground pepper

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to a day ahead. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Not gluten-free

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Rainbow-Raisin Coleslaw

By the Gracious Vegan

Rainbow-Raisin Coleslaw.png

This is a veganized version of a recipe by the great Mollie Katzen. The original was from her cookbook for kids and their helpers, Salad People & More Real Recipes. This recipe works every time, and guests always want the recipe.

Makes 4 generous servings

Process each ingredient separately in the food processor using the regular blade to get a small but not pulverized texture. Put together in a large bowl.

  • 1.5 cup (packed) shredded green cabbage
  • 1.5 cup (packed) shredded red cabbage
  • ½ small red bell pepper
  • ½ small yellow bell pepper
  • 1 medium carrot

Stir in:

  • ½ cup black or golden raisins

Combine these separately for the dressing (use fork or small whisk to combine)

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup plain almond or soy yogurt, or vegan sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Stir dressing into the slaw and either enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later.

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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