Perfectly Balance Homemade Salad Dressing With Canned Pumpkin

Pumpkins and pumpkin puree
Pumpkins and pumpkin puree - Maslova Valentina/Shutterstock

Homemade salad dressing can be a little finicky. It's fun to experiment with, but it doesn't always turn out exactly how it's originally imagined. Whether there's a problem with getting the flavors balanced just right or convincing it to emulsify properly, complications can arise. But before you're tempted to just stick with tried and true salad dressing recipes, consider that there is one common ingredient that can help transform a lackluster concoction into something fantastic: canned pumpkin purée.

Even experts agree. "It makes a fabulous addition to a homemade vinaigrette salad dressing," Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered dietician and the author of "The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club" cookbook, told U.S. News and World Report. Even better: She notes that "pumpkin puree acts as an emulsifier to keep the oil and vinegar from 'breaking' and also adds a touch of sweetness so you don't need to add sugar."

Those naturally occurring sugars will result in a dressing that tastes balanced instead of overly saccharine. And the emulsification factor will come in extra handy when it comes to making salad dressings without any eggs or dairy.

Read more: 13 Canned Foods You Should Avoid At The Grocery Store

The Salad Dressings That Canned Pumpkin Complements Best

Salad with pumpkin vinaigrette
Salad with pumpkin vinaigrette - plantvegan_mada/Instagram

Canned pumpkin is perfect for vinaigrettes. Lauren Harris-Pincus doesn't recommend using a lot -- just a few tablespoons is plenty. The more you use, the more pumpkin-y the salad dressing will turn out, of course. So only add extra if you would like a strong pumpkin-forward taste. Other than that, just keep in mind flavors that will meld well with the hint of pumpkin flavor from the purée -- such as garlic and herbs or sweet and spicy ingredients.

Pumpkin purée is naturally perfect for sweet vinaigrettes, so ingredients like maple syrup will combine well to make a delectable oil and vinegar-based dressing. But due to the purée's silky properties, you can also make a super creamy maple pumpkin salad dressing by using plenty of canned pumpkin if you prefer.

For a spicy vinaigrette, smoky chipotle peppers are ideal. The balance between sweet and spicy in the dressing is sure to give your salad the perfect amount of fruity zing. Another unexpected ingredient that will pair nicely with the pumpkin for a luscious vinaigrette is tahini. The earthy seed butter blends with the pumpkin to create a creamy dressing that's perfect for hearty green salads. However you plan to use yours, just make sure to grab the regular canned pumpkin purée and not the pie-filling variety with its slew of spices.

Different Ways To Use Salad Dressing Made With Pumpkin Puree

Spinach salad with pumpkin vinaigrette
Spinach salad with pumpkin vinaigrette - prouditaliancook/Instagram

Vinaigrettes as well as creamy dressings made from pumpkin purée taste exceptional on slightly bitter greens like kale and spinach. And since pumpkins reach maturity in autumn, it only makes sense that the dressing also pairs well with other fall fruits and veggies -- making it the perfect dressing for a Waldorf salad, among many others. It'll also work on more delicate lettuces like spring mix, and it can't hurt to include some dried cranberries, nuts, and goat cheese or brie for depth of flavor.

You can also use the salad dressing to kick chicken salad up a notch, or dress up any kind of poultry and greens. Try it as a marinade to impart the dressing's unique flavors before cooking chicken, turkey, and more. However you choose to use it, expect the homemade salad dressing to bring a lovely balance of delicious flavor and rich texture to the table.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.