Monday, June 3, 2013

Simply Greek Dressing ( and Fat Free Greek Dressing )

Traditional Greek Dressing made with
Less Oil.
When I first became a Greek Orthodox Christian, and was somewhat new to the Greek culture, I remember many times tasting a delicious dish and saying, "Wow! This is GREAT - what's your recipe?" Quite often the response would be the same, "Oh, it's just Lemon Juice & Olive Oil, with Salt & Pepper!" (and sometimes Garlic & Herbs)

After hearing this same response 1,572,368 times, I caught on! ; )

And, in addition to its use in the Greek Culture, this sort of dressing is widely used in Middle-Eastern Cuisines.

Oil Substitute
This basic dressing is great to have on hand to make nearly instant Bean Salads, Grain Salads, Vegetable plates, etc. The traditional variety is also a great marinade for all sorts of grilled things (Vegan and Otherwise).
It's simple to make, and having it made in advance really streamlines the preparation of food throughout the week - despite the fact that it's quite simple to prepare.

Look for lots of future posts utilizing this dressing!

Traditional Greek Dressing
1/2 cup Olive Oil (good quality, Extra Virgin)
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 to 2 teaspoons Garlic*
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
(some people even prefer 2 parts Olive Oil to 1 Part Lemon Juice)
(1 teaspoon Oregano - optional- may be added, but makes dressing less versatile)
Fat Free Greek Dressing
But, of course, I'm a Vegan, and try to minimize my oil intake. So, using the traditional variety isn't an everyday thing. Sometimes I just reduce the oil to a couple of Tablespoons, but otherwise make it the same way. That works pretty well. But, in a recipe like this, Olive Oil tempers the sharp acid flavour of the Lemon Juice - muting it a bit. And, reducing the Olive Oil produces a much sharper tasting dressing. And, the Oil also makes the dressing thicker and less runny, so it sticks to the food better, and simply reducing the oil produces a runny dressing.

I've been very unhappy with the "Fat Free" dressings available from the grocery. Most of them have some sort of sugar added instead of the oil - and in our house we don't often want a sweet salad. And, they have this strange bitter aftertaste that I can't quite place my finger on. And, they're overpriced.

So, I created this Fat Free Simple Greek Dressing. It uses my Oil Substitute to make it thicker so it stays on the food instead of running off. And, I added Soy Sauce along with additional Garlic & Salt to temper the sharp acid. Soy Sauce adds a complex flavour (sometimes called Umame) to diffuse the sharpness of the acid. This isn't an exact replica of the traditional stuff, but if you want to reduce your oil or fat intake for health reasons, and don't want a sweet salad, this is the best dressing I've found.

First, make Oil Substitute:
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon Tapioca Starch
Bring to a boil in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds
OR bring to a boil on stovetop, stirring constantly.

Fat Free Greek Dressing
1/2 cup Oil Substitute (above)
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (I use Kikkoman exclusively)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Garlic (I use the jarred kind, which is mild)*
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
(1 teaspoon Oregano - optional- may be added, but makes dressing less versatile)
Mix well. Chill before using if possible. Shake before using.

*Garlic & Oil combinations pose a slight risk of food poisoning if stored without additional acid in the mix. This dressing has additional acid, so I have had good experience with storing it. And, I use jarred Garlic which is specially treated with toxin-killing acid. If you use fresh or homegrown garlic, you may want to use more caution.

If you're wanting a dressing that imitates American Greek Restaurant dressing - this isn't it. Here's an American Recipe for Restaurant Greek Dressing. You may be able to add the flavours that are used on this link to the fat-free dressing to get something more Greek-American Restaurant-y, if that is your desire.

If you want a traditional blend of herbs to add for a Salad, a blend like this should work:
Greek Spice Blend

When we eat Greek Salad at home (The Green, Leafy kind), we use homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette - which is an entirely different matter : )



  1. You could try using Grapeseed Oil as well! It's actually (even better) than Olive Oil :) It's less fat and thinner and less greasy. It's high in omega's, too! It's also better at higher temps than other oils, too!

    I LOVE this version you presented, here, tho!Very nice! YUM! I'm also a fan of Avocado Oil and Hemp Oil on occasion.

  2. Can look at my blog to see nutritional facts of low fat, and fat free food at grocery stores.

  3. Good blog post. I definitely love this site.

    Keep it up!


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