Raspberry Poppy Seed Dressing
A few weeks ago, my delightful friend Sue had been swooning about her new favorite restaurant lunch; it was a healthy and robust quinoa salad, loaded with good things like arugula, cranberries, feta, kalamata olives, and some sort of bean or seed, and tossed with a raspberry poppy seed dressing. I did my best to sound enthused, because there are few things that I love more than a healthy and vegetable laden quinoa salad, but….she lost me at the dressing. Raspberry poppy seed, huh? It is conservative to say that fat-free raspberry vinaigrette is my “least favorite” salad dressing. Ever. In fact, if that’s the only dressing option available on the table, it’s a good bet that I’ll be spreading the rest of my food across the plate like a 4 year old to pretend that there just simply isn’t any room available for the green stuff.
I have been called many things in my day (most of them true), but “Fussy Eater” is not among the lot. There are few food items that I actively despise, but sadly a store bought raspberry poppy seed dressing is definitely on the list. I shudder when I see the party-pink liquid inside a squeeze bottle, because I know the flavor will be saccharine sweet and cloying, with a dressing texture which is mucilaginous at best.
You guys, life is too short for awful salad dressings. I have no ill-will towards raspberries or poppy seeds, however, and I figured that it was time to get over my distaste in true Choosy Beggars style: by making a raspberry and poppy seed dressing myself and making it better.
This is truly a “dressing” as opposed to a vinaigrette. It spreads well when tossed with a salad, but it has enough body that it won’t pool in the bottom of your bowl like a thin, liquid dressing….and it certainly won’t ooze out suspiciously with that glazed-over and artificially stabilized look that most commercially made raspberry vinaigrette is known for. The flavor of this homemade dressing is less sweet and a bit more assertive with the brightness of shallot and the complementary but sophisticated herbal flair of tarragon. Finally, a raspberry poppy seed dressing that I can’t get enough of!
Raspberry Poppy Seed Dressing
Yield ~ 2 cups
- 6 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 small to medium sized shallots *
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp dried tarragon **
- 2/3 cup neutral oil ***
- 1/4 cup poppy seeds
- salt, to taste
* Technically there is only 1 shallot in the picture, but look at the SIZE of that beast! I thought I had a bag of shallots in the cupboard, but when I checked, all that was left was this elephantine bulb which had clearly eaten all of the other shallots in the night. It was so large that I only used about 3/4 of the thing in the dressing, and that still came to a heaping 1/4 cup.
** If you have fresh tarragon, about 1.5 tablespoons finely minced will be fine.
*** “Neutral oil” means that it is light, mild and neutral tasting. I opted for sunflower oil, mostly because I was out of grapeseed, but any similar light and mild oil is fine. Save your good olive oils for a different type of vinaigrette, because the flavor would be overwhelming in this dressing.
Peel the shallot and chop it into manageable hunks. Put the shallots, raspberries (6 oz is about a half pint, if you’re using fresh picked), honey, white wine vinegar, tarragon and salt into a blender and puree until smooth. If your raspberries are especially tart, you may wish to add another teaspoon of honey. However, this is berry season and they should be more than sweet enough to get by with the tablespoon as indicated.
Scrape the contents of your blender into a medium sized bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until you have a smooth and emulsified mixture. Whisk in the poppy seeds.
Check the seasoning and add any additional salt to taste.
This raspberry poppy seed dressing really is more of a dressing than a thin vinaigrette, although it tosses beautifully and evenly with salad greens. In terms of viscosity, it should be thick enough to fill a spoon, but thin enough for a robust drizzle rather than a clumpy dollop. If it is absolutely necessary, you can thin your dressing with up to 1/4 cup of cold water.
This dressing will keep for at least 2-3 weeks in your fridge. Simply take the jar out of your fridge a couple of minutes in advance so that it can loosen, give it a quick shake, and you’re good to go.
I always have a few random jars of homemade salad dressing in my fridge because it really does make an enormous difference to the quality of your dinner when you use good ingredients. When it only takes a minute or two to whip up a delicious dressing like this, why would you want to fall back unnecessarily on store bought?