Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Best Salad Dressing, Ever.

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I realize this title is a very bold claim. 

Let me rephrase this: if you like a hint of sweet and a punch of heat, if you are trying to get away from consuming fatty oils, if you are looking for a fat-free, sugar-free, practically carb-free salad dressing that you can make yourself... then yes, this is the best salad dressing ever

I came across the recipe last summer from Our Best Bites blog. It was a water-vinegar based marinade tossed with cucumbers, red pepper flakes and red onion. I made it as such, then put it on a bed of spinach leaves and paired it with simple chicken kabobs. It made for a wonderfully simple, delicious and nutritious dish!

Fast forward to now and I have my monthly girls-night-in cooking group. With swim suit season officially here, we decided to go with some light favorites with leafy greens and grilled lean proteins. I volunteered to contribute the salad and thought I would use this marinade as a salad dressing. Making a small edit to the original, I nixed the sugar and added a splash of red wine vinegar to the mix instead. Combining a plethora of baby greens, I added this cucumber and sweet/spicy "dressing" with avocado and feta cheese. We served it with chicken and shrimp skewers, the result was fantastic.

This week, I wanted to re-make that salad for Mr. Max in our weekly meal plan, but planned to take another past recipe that we loved and do a little recipe mash-up. For this dish I re-did the skinny Bangin' Good Shrimp originally acquired from Gina over at Skinnytaste. I made some very slight adjustments to her recipe the first time, mainly subbing the mayonnaise for Greek Yogurt to cut down on excess calories and fats, a wonderful result.

The two together were fantastic, it was perfect for a light week night meal, but definitely have a glass of water handy. The nutritional facts for the dressing alone can be found here; this is for a full 4 servings of the dressing, 1 serving would look more like this! The nutrition facts for the whole meal can be found here, both calculated by SparkRecipes.com.The meal combo is low in fat, calories, carbs, high in protein and fiber! Try this salad combo out, or make the dressing alone for your next summer salad and let me know how you like it!

Grocery List:
Recipe amount yields 3-4 servings

For Salad
*denotes ingredients used for dressing only
  • *1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • *1/4 cup water
  • *1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • *1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • *1/4 cup red onion
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, chopped (about 1.5 cups cucumber)
  • 3-4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 small avocado, chopped into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
For Shrimp
  • 1/2 lb. cooked shrimp, tail removed
  • 2 tbsp. plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (I used Oikos)
  • 1 tbsp. green onion, diced (start chopping from white tips for most flavorful part of the bulb)
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha
  • 1 tsp. Sweet Red Chili Paste 
Start by making the dressing by combining all italicized ingredients into a small sauce pan, minus the red onion. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by almost 1/3 cup. This allows the liquids to thicken slightly and become a little more syrupy.

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Once reduced, take off the heat and add the red onions. This time around, because I was adding a shrimp with some spice to them, I drained the liquid and discarded of the chili pepper flakes and seeds before adding the red onion. Let sit and cool for about 15 minutes or until room temperature.

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I chose to get already cooked shrimp on this grocery run. Okay, maybe it was not a cognitive decision, it was done on accident, but it worked to my benefit. It decreased the time to prep the meal, which is always nice! I simply took the cooked shrimp, removed the tails and combined them with the mixture of the greek yogurt, green onions, sriracha and sweet red chili sauce. 

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I decided to heat this in the microwave for a mere 30 seconds to warm up the already cooked shrimp just a tad.  Adding the lettuce, feta, cucumber and avocado to the bowl, I poured in the dressing and mixed the contents well. Plated the result and topped with the shrimp (5 for me, 7-8 for Mr. Max). 



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