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Two dressings for salad: Citrus date and balsamic date

May 19, 2018

chopping board with jug of salad dressing and cucumbers

If you type ‘date recipes’ into the search bar in Pinterest you’ll be inundated with energy balls, no bake bars, raw brownies, shakes, smoothies and masses of paleo stuff (also a few for date night). It’s all very sweet – perhaps unsurprisingly as dates are. However, if you know me at all, the absence of a sweet tooth means that I’m looking for some savoury options. Apart from bacon wrapped dates (which, although delicious, are not very appropriate during Ramadan) the non-dessert recipes using dates are a bit thin on the ground.

Historically, there were no division of courses and sweet dishes were served throughout the meal. Many foods were a mixture of sweet and savoury. In Tudor times many new foods and spices were being discovered and imported, such as nutmeg and sugar from the New World. Henry the Eighth’s banqueting table would have been filled with things like loin of veal adorned with sugar plums and pomegranate seeds, sweet potatoes with rose and orange syrup, and veal “chawettys” – a meat pie made with minced veal, dates and raisins.

My thoughts turned to salad dressings; after all, honey and mustard dressing is one of the most popular so why not use dates as the sweetener? I tinkered with a few versions in my kitchen but couldn’t get it quite right. Then I found a video on YouTube for a recipe so simple, I didn’t believe it would be that great, but was proved wrong. I’m ambivalent about it being oil-free, but you might like this. It packs a citrussy zing that’s fresh and bright poured over greens like lettuce or cucumber. Salads with carrots or parsley (or both) will benefit too as the orange pairs perfectly.

You don’t have to stick with orange and lemon either. Pink grapefruit, or even yuzu if you can get it, would work well.

A dressing that stands up to some stronger salad ingredients like shredded cabbage or radishes is one based on balsamic vinegar. This is from Anna Jones’ book A Modern Way to Eat which is one of the most well-used cookery books in my kitchen. She uses it to coat a crunchy salad based on pad thai but without the noodles. You could leave out the chilli if you want to make it more all-purpose.

Both dressings don’t do well hanging around so best to use immediately.

Citrus date salad dressing

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light, zingy, oil-free dressing to pour over salad leaves.

Chopping the dates up a bit first is important. You’ll need a high-powered blender to whizz it until smooth but, because of the small quantity, it can easily heat up in a Vitamix so don’t try putting them in whole.


  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 4 dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Add the juice of the lemon and oranges (or whichever citrus juice you use) to your blender. You should have about 250ml of liquid.
  2. Remove the stones from the dates and chop quite finely (see notes).
  3. Put the dates and salt into the blender (it’s important that the liquid goes in first for machines like a Vitamix).
  4. Blend until combined (but don’t whizz for too long in case the dressing starts to heat). This is not a thick dressing as there is no oil to emulsify it. You could add some olive oil to make it thicker at this point (give it a good shake to combine).
  5. Use immediately. Really good with soft salad leaves like lettuce or watercress.

A jug of citrus salad dressing

And here’s a good all-rounder especially for crunchy salads.

Spicy balsamic date dressing

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A robust and moreish dressing which is delicious poured over chopped cabbage, carrot, radishes and other crunchy salads.

You’ll need a high-powered blender to whizz it smoothly. In theory you could pound the dates and chop everything finely by hand if you can be bothered.


  • 2 ripe, plump dates, stones removed and coarsely chopped
  • 100g cashew nuts, soaked overnight in water
  • a small knob of fresh ginger (about 2cm) peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 150ml water


  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and whizz until smooth. It should be loose enough to pour but thick enough to coat your salad veg. Add a little more water if needed.
  2. Use immediately

chopping board with jug of salad dressing and cucumbers

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Sources:  A Tudor Banquet, Anna Jones

This is my second post for my 30 days of dates challenge. Please feel free to join in and share your date recipes here or on Instagram. Have you used dates in a salad dressing? Are you a sweet or savoury person?

  1. May 19, 2018 5:04 pm

    I’m always looking for new salad dressings and these sound delicious. Maybe it’s because I like anything with dates!

    • May 23, 2018 7:14 pm

      Me too – I love that there is no processed sugar in the dressings

  2. May 19, 2018 5:44 pm

    I am with you lulu. I could eat my weight in dates and O am a big girl.

    • May 23, 2018 7:15 pm

      I’m tucking into some as we speak!

  3. May 24, 2018 12:31 pm

    Both salad dressing recipes very much appeal to me. Like you, I am more of a savoury tooth than sweet tooth and I am always on the look out – on behalf of my cancer and nutrition classes – for ways to healthily bridge the two. Great ideas xx Pinning 🙂

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