I’ve never been a fan of store-bought dressings; they’re often too sweet, too fatty, or just plain boring. The only exception is a local one made by Little Creek, which was our go-to for a long time. That is, until I discovered the recipe for Hollyhock’s yeast dressing, which is almost a dead ringer for Little Creek’s, so it’s been homemade dressing for us ever since.
It might sound like an unusual combination, but this dressing is so incredibly delicious, I can’t get enough of it (and we’ve eaten it regularly for almost 20 years). It’s also packed with B vitamins (including B12, if you buy fortified yeast), so it’s perfect for those eating plant-based. If you’re a fan of Caesar dressing (but not the eggs, dairy, and anchovies), you’ll love this dressing’s garlicky zip!
If we’re having salad at home, this is the dressing we use most often. We love a good vinaigrette too, but this one is just so satisfying. We like to pile freshly picked greens (when possible) with a combination of chickpeas, dried cranberries, cherry tomatoes, toasted seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), sprouted mixed beans, croutons, avocado, and/or some orange pieces. Cheese (dairy or non) goes extremely well with this dressing, as do most toppings, savoury or sweet. If you think you don’t like eating salads in winter, this dressing will change your mind.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with ways to replace the oil in my cooking. I’m not really interested in adopting a low-fat diet, necessarily (I’m a meaty vegan who loves to eat), but I do like the idea of eliminating refined foods, especially those that contribute so much in the way of calories without adding any nutritional value. Since a typical salad dressing is about 2/3 to 3/4 oil, and we eat salad almost every day, finding a way to reduce those empty calories has been percolating in my brain for a while.
Anyone who eats a plant-based diet knows the incredible ability of cashews to replace the cream and fat in recipes – just blend them with some liquid, and Bob’s your uncle – instant creaminess. Nuts aren’t exactly low in fat, but they contribute other things like protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your recipe, while oil only contributes fat.
I haven’t removed all of the oil here, I left just enough to keep the dressing as rich and luscious as one made with all oil. I have made it without any at all, but I find the flavour’s a little better with it in there; it’s a trade-off I can live with.
I don’t soak the cashews before I make it, and my blender has no problem getting it smooth. You might have to blend for several minutes depending on the power of your blender, but if that still doesn’t do the trick, try soaking them for a couple of hours next time (drain before using). The soaked cashews might contribute more liquid, so you might want to hold back a bit of the water to ensure it’s thick enough.
I like to use avocado oil because it thickens when cold, which adds to the creamy consistency (a thick dressing coats the leaves nicely). Make sure your greens are as dry as possible before dressing.
Nutritional Yeast Salad Dressing (Low Oil)
A delicious low-fat take on my favourite salad dressing. Made with nutritional yeast, it's high in B vitamins, and thickened with cashews instead of oil.
- 2 tbsp tamari (be sure to use tamari, other soy sauces won't taste the same)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 large clove garlic
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (with B12)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup cashews (soaked, if necessary) (use hemp seeds for a nut-free version)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or other mild oil) (or less, or omit)
Place all ingredients, except oil, in blender jar. Blend until smooth (this can take anywhere from one to five minutes, depending on your blender). Slowly drizzle oil through the top with the motor running.
Chill for a couple of hours before using to allow dressing to thicken, and flavours to develop.
Serve over your favourite greens. This can also be used as a sauce on cooked vegetables and grains.
Makes about 1 cup.