Confession: I don’t eat nearly as many salads as a ‘good’ vegetarian should.  In fact, I never much cared for lettuce.  I only cared for the dressing on top of the lettuce, and that dressing was always some sort of boring light vinaigrette.  I didn’t let myself go near any creamy dressing for fear of losing control.

But after hearing so much buzz in the PPK vegan forums and in the Blogosphere about Trader Joe’s vegan Goddess Dressing, I simply HAD to try it.  At 12 grams of fat per serving it isn’t a light dressing, but since 11 of those grams are unsaturated, it’s not a bad indulgence.  It was love at first bite.

But since I have so many friends and family in places unserved by Trader Joe’s (Florida!), I didn’t want to tease anyone by posting about this miracle dressing until I found a more obtainable alternative.  I scoured the internet for knock-off recipes – and there were several – but they either didn’t come close in taste or were so complex that I didn’t dare try.  Thankfully I didn’t give up, and eventually read in a number of sources that Annie’s Naturals Goddess Dressing has a striking resemblance.  Could it be true?  I had to investigate…

Private Investigation: A close look at the bottles reveals ingredients that are almost essentially the same, and nutrition facts that are identical except for 30mg of extra sodium in the TJ’s brand. In fact, I would be willing to bet good money that the TJ’s dressing is actually manufactured by Annie’s Naturals.  A Trader Joe’s secret is that they often use name-brand manufacturers but keep their identities secret (so as not to cause a commotion when other retailers realize the manufacturer is giving TJ’s a much better price on the same product).

Taste Test! The Annie’s dressing poured out a little bit thicker, but otherwise they were nearly identical.  I had a slight preference toward the Trader Joe’s dressing, but Mike liked the Annie’s a bit more, so let’s call them even.  Good news for my Florida friends!

THE BEST SALAD I EVER MADE: Now that you know where to find the dressing, you too can make my favorite salad!  First, let me say that although this is a salad it is not in anyway light.  This is a very satisfying entree salad that would make a lovely meal paired with some whole grain crackers and a side of fruit or a summery soup.

I invented this salad while Mike was out of town on business.  I had taken a leisurely trip to Trader Joe’s to buy my first bottle of this mystical Goddess Dressing.  Just steps from the dressing were fresh Mache (mild baby lettuce leaves in tiny little bunches) and Pea Shoots (sweet and crispy) which were both completely new to me and struck my interest.  The bag of Mache indicated that it paired well with avocado.  And avocado made me think of my favorite salad at Blind Faith Cafe which has avocado, cashews, and raisins… Although it was only 9:30 am, I was so excited I assembled the salad and ate it as soon as I got home!

It was such a success that I’ve made this salad many more times.  Since Mache and Pea Shoots are hard to find, I’ve made this salad several times without them.  It comes out wonderfully with Spinach.  Sometimes I also add sprouts.  I bet it would also be delicious with a little grated carrot.  With dressing this good, and with the richness of cashews and avocado, you simply can’t go wrong.

Ingredients

For 1 entree salad or 2 side salads

  • 2 cups Spinach or Mache
  • 1/2 small avocado, pitted and cubed
  • 1/4 cup of pea shoots or sprouts (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Raw, Unsalted Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon of Raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons of Goddess Dressing (Trader Joe’s or Annie’s Naturals)

Directions

  • Add ingredients to the bowl in the order shown, drizzling on the dressing.

When I made this salad for Mike upon his return (with just plain old spinach) he said “Wow, baby!  This is so good!  I think it’s the BEST salad you’ve ever made!” (and he’s usually weird about avocado).

 

 

I’d love to hear from you!

What interesting salad ingredients have you tried?

What’s your favorite dressing?  Your best salad?