Well-Traveled Salad Dressings and Marinades

Vegetables lettuce salad with tomatoes onion cheese and olives. Olive oil pouring into bowl of salad.

I don’t know about you, but with the stay-safe-at-home directive cooking has become even more of a passion. Now that we’ve been baking and preparing all our favorite comfort foods, it’s time to look ahead toward the warm weather and lighter fare. To me, that means lots of vegetables and salads.

This being FoodTrients, I’m going to share some international-style dressings that can take you on a culinary vacation while maximizing health benefits. Most of these dressings can also be used to marinate meat, chicken or seafood. You’ll notice that many of these dressings/marinades contain a small amount of mustard. Mustard serves as an excellent emulsifier so that the oil and the acid fully incorporate. It also tenderizes whatever protein you are using.

Sea Scallops Get a Taste of Asia

Scallops are such wonderful nuggets of protein with a sweet, nutty taste. Scallops are also low in calories, high in protein (19.5 g for a 3-oz serving), High in Omega3-3 fatty acids, vitamins B-12, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. And they cook in no time!

BBQ Grilled Scallops with Grilled Asparagus and a Herb, Garlic Butter Sauce

Asian Marinade for Sea Scallops

Serves 4


1/3 cup avocado or sesame oil for marinade; 1 Tbs. for sauté pan
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled smashed and chopped
1 tsp. Dijon or hot mustard
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 lb. fresh or frozen sea scallops


1. If using frozen sea scallops, thaw in the refrigerator for 1 ½-2 days

2. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together all the ingredients; add in the scallops and marinate under refrigeration for ½ hour.

3. Put 1 Tbs. of avocado or sesame oil in a large sauté pan and heat over medium high heat.

4. Add in the scallops and sear about 1 minute to 1 ½ minutes on each side till just cooked.

5. Serve with rice or soba noodles and stir-fried vegetables.

Try a Tangy Asian Dressing

This recipe is also Asian inspired and makes an excellent marinade as well as a dressing. It appears in my Age Gracefully cookbook. Ginger gives this dressing its flavor as well as amazing anti-inflammatory benefits and pain-reducing effects. It also relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and aids digestion. Buy the whole gingerroot, then peel or cut off about an inch of the rough skin. Grate only as much ginger as you need, and put the root back into the refrigerator, ready to be peeled and grated for the next dish. I use this dressing with my Green Tea Noodles with Edamame and over my Spinach and Grapefruit Salad. It works well with any mixed green salad.

Tangy Ginger Dressing

YIELD about ¼ cup


1 Tbs. grated gingerroot
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. mirin (seasoned rice wine)
1 Tbs. sesame oil
Dash of ground pepper


1. Combine all the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well blended.

A Dressing from the South of France

Tarragon is an herb with long, dark leaves that has an almost anise flavor. It’s used a lot in French cooking and the classic French herb blend, fines herbes. The recipe below is great on a green salad or as a dip for fresh vegetables. If you double the fresh tarragon, add a quarter cup of walnuts or pine nuts and pulse in a food processor– voila! Pesto to spread on bread or toss into pasta.

Tea herbal in cup frame on board

French Lemon Vinaigrette with Tarragon and Shallots

Makes about 2/3 cup


1 clove garlic – smashed, then chopped
1 Tbs. shallot, chopped
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
Juice of 1 large lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Using a whisk, mix all ingredients vigorously in a bowl. Store in a glass container with a lid.

A Creamy Avocado Dressing from Mexico

Mexican food doesn’t have to be those heavy, red, cheesy (though delicious) dishes like chile rellenos and enchiladas. This dressing (a slight variation of the Creamy Avocado Dressing that appears in the Age Gracefully cookbook) would be ideal on a salad of greens, black beans, baked cubes of sweet potato, and a healthy grain like quinoa. Or it could grace grilled shrimp or chicken tacos. The avocado provides healthy non-saturated fat and the cilantro is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. It’s rich in potassium, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease by regulating blood pressure and it contains antioxidants, which protect cells from free radicals.

green salad dressing with avocado, lime and cilantro in a glass jar

Creamy Mexican Vegan Avocado Lime Dressing

Yield: about 1 ½ cup


1 whole, ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1 cup chopped cilantro 1 large clove fresh garlic, peeled 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice 2 Tbs. olive oil ½ tsp. cane sugar or honey (if not vegan) ¼ tsp. sea salt ¼ tsp .freshly ground black pepper ¼ tsp. ground cumin


1. Place all ingredients except the water in a blender or food processor; pulse until thoroughly blended.

2. Add water to thin and scrape down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lime, salt, cumin or sweetener as desired.

3. Save the leftover dressing in a glass container with a tight lid in the refrigerator.

A Versatile Dressing/Marinade from Lebanon

Lebanon sits on the Eastern Mediterranean next to Syria and Israel where it enjoys a gentle climate and plenty of fresh produce. This dressing/marinade is so versatile! Use it as a dip for steamed artichokes or pour over steamed vegetables, or make a delicious, summery fatoush salad (recipe below).

The olive oil contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, is low in saturated fat and contains oleic acid that helps prevent inflammation in the body. Raw garlic lowers cholesterol, helps regulate blood pressure for better heart health and contains compounds that help strengthen bone, improve memory, and keep skin healthy and supple. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, aid digestion, and contribute to reducing cancer risk. All these ingredients are important elements of the health-promoting Mediterranean diet.

Salad dressing

Lebanese Garlic Lemon Dressing/Marinade – Lebanon

Yield: about ¾ cup


4 garlic cloves peeled, crushed and roughly chopped
½ tsp. coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 1/2 lemons
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp. zaatar seasoning (available at Mid-Eastern markets or make your own)
½ tsp. dried sumac
½ tsp. Dijon mustard


Put all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl and whisk vigorously. Store in a tightly closed glass container.

Traditional fattoush salad on a plate with pita croutons, cucumber, tomato, red onion, vegetables mix and herbs

Fatoush Salad

Serves 4


1 Tbs. vegetable or avocado oil for frying
2 small (4-inch) pita breads, torn into pieces
3 Persian cucumbers, finely diced
3 cups halved grape tomatoes
½ red onion, finely diced
¾ cup chopped Italian parsley
¾ cup chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. ground sumac for garnish
2 oz. sheep’s milk Greek or Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled


1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place pita pieces into the skillet without crowding. Fry in batches until golden brown and blot dry with paper towels.

2. Combine cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, parsley, mint and Garlic/Lemon dressing in a large bowl. Gently toss salad with fried pita pieces. Add the crumbled feta cheese and toss again.

3. Note: to make the fatoush salad more substantial, add 1 cup of drained, rinsed garbanzo beans for protein and fiber.


About Grace O

GRACE O is the creator of FoodTrients®, a unique program for optimizing wellness and longevity. She is the author of two award-winning cookbooks – The Age Gracefully Cookbook and The Age Beautifully Cookbook, which recently won the National award for Innovation from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She is a fusion chef with a mission to deliver delicious recipes built on a foundation of anti-aging science and her 20 years in the healthcare industry. Visit FoodTrients.com to learn more. Email us at info@foodtrients.com
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