Today we’re sharing one of our favorite summer recipes: Ginger-Miso Dressing. Drizzled over greens or served as a dip for cucumbers and peppers straight from the garden, this slightly sweet, spicy dressing contains a secret serving of vegetables. It also can serve as a sauce for simple grilled chicken or fish. Read on to find out how eating salads can help you beat the heat this summer.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, summer is the season of fire; in Ayurveda, pitta (fire) is also the dosha (constitution) that dominates this time of year. Summer is considered a time of growth and expansion, both in the universe and within each of us. Do you feel the pull to get up early, stay up later and make hay while the sun shines, either literally or not? This inspiration many of us feel to create, travel and work more and longer aligns with the energy of the season. However, as with any season of our life, we need to strive to keep the mind, body and spirit in balance.
One of the ways we can create a sense of equilibrium during this fiery season is to consume cooling foods that are high in water. Thankfully, as Mother Earth’s own productivity naturally picks up, she provides us with plenty of fruits and vegetables that are just what we need this time of year.
Does the idea of eating a heavy cooked meal just not appeal to you when the mercury starts to rise? That’s OK. Save the comforting soups and thick stews for fall and winter. Honor the season (and save on your energy bill) by serving up a plate of veggies, smoothie or salad for supper if that’s what you’re craving. Pile your plate high with a variety of dark leafy greens; crunchy cucumbers, fennel and peppers; and plenty of fresh herbs like dill, basil and parsley. Toss on some nuts or seeds for heart-healthy fats, protein and more fiber, and dinner is served! Now, about that dressing…
Our Ginger-Miso Dressing is a spicy, sesame-rich twist on one that’s popular at Japanese restaurants.
The secret serving of vegetables comes in the form of carrots, which give the dressing its sunny color. These root veggies provide vitamin A and potassium, as well as natural sweetness. In TCM, carrots are said to clear heat from the body, and they contain lycopene, which is what also gives tomatoes their color.(1)
Miso, or fermented soybean paste, is rich in umami and probiotics. It looks a little like crunchy peanut butter, but it is made from soybeans that have been boiled, dried and fermented. It has a very strong, deep salty flavor and is rich in amino acids. Miso comes in two basic varieties, based on color. White miso, which is what we’re using in the dressing, is milder in flavor and slightly sweeter. They’re not fermented as long as red misos, which are stronger in taste and darker in color.
Tahini is sesame paste made from hulled sesame seeds, and it comes in raw and roasted varieties. The latter has a stronger sesame flavor. Rich in vitamin E, tahini is rich in calcium and protein, and it can be used to replace oil in recipes like this one.
We also use a bit of dark sesame oil to add more intense flavor. While untoasted sesame oil is suitable for higher-heat cooking, it has a generally mild taste. Dark sesame oil is toasted, and it is used for finishing dishes or in recipes that do not require cooking, as it has a relatively low smoke point.
We used our Ginger Root liquid herbal extract for extra potency and to avoid the stringiness that sometimes happens when using fresh ginger. Rice vinegar’s acidity rounds out the flavor. The result is a balanced dressing that is delicious atop fresh salad greens or drizzled over stir-fried bok choy.
This Ginger-Miso Dressing takes just five minutes to prepare and – even better – doesn’t require that you turn on the oven. Stay cool on any summer evening with this dressing and your favorite salad.
TIP: Consume cruciferous vegetables often. Cruciferous vegetables, so named because their four flower petals resemble a cross, include arugula, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards and cabbage – all of which are in season during summer. These vegetables contain sulfur compounds called glucosinolates, which support the digestive system’s natural detoxification process.(2) They also lend the trademark bitter flavor and sulfurous aroma when cooked. In addition, studies have found a correlation between regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables and normal digestive function, which includes the liver.(3) Current dietary guidelines recommend between 2 and 3 cups of vegetables daily for adult men and women; include cruciferous vegetables among those servings.
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white or sweet miso
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 2 carrots, peeled, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 15 drops Gaia Herbs Ginger Root liquid herbal extract
- salt and pepper
- optional: black sesame seeds
- Combine the vinegar, miso, sesame oil, tahini, carrots and Ginger Root extract in a blender. Pulse to combine, then stream in ½ cup water with the motor running until dressing is thick but pourable. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Toss with desired salad ingredients and garnish with black sesame seeds.
- May be refrigerated up to five days; it will thicken, so add water one tablespoon at a time if needed to achieve desired consistency.
(1) Wood, Rebecca. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York. Penguin Books; 1988.
(2) Hoffmann, David, FNIMH, AHG. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont. Healing Arts Press; 2003.
(3) Murillo G, Mehta RG. 2001;41(1-2):17-28.