I'd like to tell those of you who don't already know, about the wonders of hemp seeds. This super-food has amazing qualities both culinary and health-wise. When consumed raw, hemp seeds are a healthy dose of essential fatty acids, omega-3s, and antioxidants. We like to sprinkle them on salads, omelets, and dips. They can be used to make a quick nut milk in a pinch. But my favorite use, by far, is as a creamy base for salad dressings.
I have been experimenting with various different dairy substitutes for several years. I really like almond milk, as you know. I also find the neutral, fatty properties of soaked and blended cashews to be immensely helpful. Tahini makes a wonderful creamy base but it has its own distinctive flavor. Coconut milk is great, if you want a coconut flavor. For salad dressings, though, nothing holds a candle to the wonderful hemp seed. All you need is a couple of tablespoons (which is a good thing as these babies are not cheap) blended into your dressing for a creamy concoction that is super, duper good for you. By blending them raw and eating them on a salad, you are making them completely nutritionally available. And they blend up easily into a slightly nutty, super creamy, neutral base to which you can add oil, vinegar or citrus juice, and other ingredients depending on which direction you want to go in.
Today's recipe is for the base of my go-to 'house' dressing. I don't like bottled dressings, and since its so easy to make at home, I never bother to buy. Sometimes a simple vinaigrette is all we need, other times I require creamy. I have noticed that too much vinegar makes my tongue hurt, so I avoid that too. I like a combination of lemon and orange juice in my dressings.
I never seem to make the same recipe twice, but I will try to get the amounts right here. There is no wrong way to do this and I encourage you to experiment. Sometimes I add honey and mustard. Or I up the orange juice and add a bunch of cilantro or other fresh herbs. Other times I make it with sesame oil, miso, ginger and hot peppers. The sky's the limit here.
Hemp seeds can be bought online, or found in the refrigerator section of your local health food store. You'll need a stand up or immersion blender to get that creamy effect. The base recipe is quite thick, like mayonnaise and you can certainly use it as such. It tastes like garlic aioli. (Omit the OJ if this is what you want.) Add a couple tablespoons of Sriracha hot sauce and you've got spicy mayo.
|honey mustard variation, all ready to blend|
Creamy Hemp Seed Salad Dressing (base recipe)
Variations (add to base recipe before blending)2 TBS hemp seedsUsing a blender, combine ingredients together. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.
1/4 cup lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup fresh orange juice (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt & black pepper to taste
If you make a variation I haven't mentioned, let me know! I love ideas...Cilantro-Lime: 1 bunch cilantro, sub lime juice for the lemon juice (toss a jalapeno in too if that's your bag)
Honey-Mustard: 1 tablespoon each of dijon mustard and honey
Herb-Ranch: one bunch of parsley, 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Asian: sub sesame oil for olive oil, 1 teaspoon miso or soy sauce for salt, and a nob of ginger
Roasted Garlic: if you've got roasted garlic laying around, toss a bunch of that in there. (omit the fresh garlic) It's off the hook.
Basil-Tomato: 1/2 cup fresh basil, and 1/2 fresh tomato
Last night we had the honey mustard variety (my favorite) on a delicious salad of shaved fennel, grapefruit segments, avocado slices, and romaine lettuce. It was divine.