Dress Up Your Salad For Summer

Who wants to turn on their oven during a summer heat wave?  Not us!

Now, salad can get boring, but it definitely does not have to, especially not when July has gifted us with an abundance of early blueberries.  They’re practically falling off the bushes right now, begging to be picked and savored.  Big, plump blueberries add a burst of sweetness to any number of delicious summer salads.

But the small, slightly tart blueberries found this early in July lend themselves to something even more versatile: a blueberry balsamic vinaigrette. It couldn’t be easier to whip up – and you can use it to dress virtually any salad. Try it on spinach with beets and goat cheese and almonds, or double up on the “blue” with blue cheese and walnuts over kale.  Make it a filling meal by adding chicken or salmon.

This recipe will provide enough to keep a jar in the fridge for a couple weeks.  That way you can whip it out whenever the heat demands a cool, refreshing, oven-free meal that’s anything but boring.

Here’s the formula:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (but you can use frozen out of season)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey (or maple)
  • optional:  a few sprigs of fresh basil, rosemary, or thyme
  • if you have it:  a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup oil (olive oil or whatever you usually use to make salad dressing)

Simply add everything except the oil to a blender and puree, then add the oil and whiz until fully emulsified.


Tips and variations:

  • If you have raspberries or strawberries, cherries, or even apples, try it with those instead! Just peel the apple first if you don’t want flecks of skin in the dressing.
  • Replace half the oil with cold water for a lighter dressing.
  • Substitute apple cider vinegar for balsamic if you want lighter colored dressing with a more sharp flavor.
  • Use maple syrup instead of honey for a slightly different flavor.
  • Make it savory!  Leave out the honey entirely, and add diced shallot and/or garlic instead.  This works really well if you’re adding sweet ingredients to the salad itself.  You can opt for powdered onion or garlic for a shortcut.
  • Kick it up a notch!  Add a sprinkle of cayenne or smoked paprika.
  • No blender?  Totally fine.  You can make a chunky dressing.  Mash the blueberries with a fork as best you can, and whisk the ingredients by hand.  You’ll get an arm workout!

Printable recipe card here: