Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

In the past few weeks, we’ve gone from winter to summer in Louisiana with spring barely making an appearance.  Or maybe it did, but I was so busy with book and blog stuff that I missed it.  Either way, I’m a little bummed and it’s hot outside.  And if you were reading our blog last summer, you know how much I love summer in Louisiana.  Let’s just say that I’m already looking into ways we can get away this summer so I don’t harm myself and those around me.

After coming out to the realization that I’m not nearly as stressed as I was two weeks ago (as well as the fact that I totally blinked and missed spring), I took a look at my yard and was horrified.  Leaves, acorns, overgrown who-knows-what, grass that needed to be mowed, all covered with a generous dusting of pollen.  So we spent the weekend cleaning up the yard, ripping out dead bushes, finding good homes for a whole bunch of roses that I refuse to take care of in the manner to which they’re accustomed, and shopping for plants.  I was even brave enough to buy some veggies and herb plants and a garden and I are having a trial run this summer.  My husband has very low expectations of success (not without reason).

When we spend so much time outside in the heat, I never really want to eat much, and I definitely want something light and fresh.  In a few days, I’m posting a yummy little salad that my sister-in-law Stephanie made a long time ago when we were both newlyweds.  I couldn’t remember the salad dressing recipe, but I remembered what it was like, so I did a little experimenting.  I love, love, love how light and fresh this dressing is–it totally brightens everything on the plate and is perfect for a spring or summer salad.

You’ll need about two lemons, rice wine vinegar, sugar, canola oil, a little bit of onion, a clove of garlic, some salt and pepper, and some poppy seeds.

Now…when we did our cooking demonstrations at Orson Gygi last week for the book launch, in both classes, we were asked what our favorite kitchen tools were.  We pretty much agreed on everything and 100% believe that the Microplane is a totally essential item in your kitchen arsenal.  Mine got a lot of love in this recipe.

Using a Microplane, grate the zest off both lemons and then grate 1 tsp. onion.  Place the lemon zest and onion in a container with a lid (I just used a Tupperware container). In the same container, add the sugar, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, poppy seeds, pressed garlic, and about 1/3 c. lemon juice (more or less–if you’re almost there or a little over, don’t toss it or juice another lemon).  Close the lid and shake vigorously.  This is best if it can stand for at least an hour before you serve it–just pop it into the refrigerator and then shake well before serving.

I could eat just this dressing on plain spinach all the time and totally not feel bad about myself.  But the salad I’m posting later this week is even better, so stay tuned!


  1. That’s so funny that you remembered that salad. It was probably Britney’s recipe that I still have to call her for every time because I never can seem to hold onto it! By the way I love that you micro-planed the onions. I’ve never thought to do that but I hate big chunks of raw onions so that’s the perfect solution!

  2. Sounds delicious! Excited to hear about the salad!

    I exercised my black thumb last year and got some beautiful tomatoes so we’re trying a few herbs and a few more vegetables this year! I don’t have a lot of hope with my garden vs. the deer/bunnies/ground hogs and moles but at least we’ll have some well fed wildlife! 🙂

  3. You can use the microplane to grate your garlic, too. I like it a lot more than the press…especially since I broke my press.

  4. This sounds WONDERFUL! Good luck with the garden, if we were neighbors I would garden for your family and you could cook for us! lol I put in a big enough garden so the squirrels & deer damage does not wipe out the whole thing (darn buggers anyway) around 20 tomato plants about that many hot peppers along with tons of corn, come watermelon-cantaloupe-cucumbers and Pumpkins that did nothing last year. LOVE my garden and all the goodies it produces! I canned last summer for the 1st time and found a new passion 🙂

  5. That looks divine…!!

    Any chance you guys will post a recipe for coconut cake before Easter?? I’m dying to find a good one, and I only trust you!

  6. Hi Kate! I am a fairly new reader to your blog. I loved it so much I ordered the cookbook and I am LOVING it just as much! I just wanted to tell you, you are not alone in your despise of LA summers! I spent the past 3 yrs living there and it is the WORST during the summer (one of those I was 7-8months pregnant too!)! And don’t you love the lovely 1 inch of yellow dust that accumulates on anything and everything outside! We lived in Mandeville, which is north of New Orleans. I grew up in TX so I thought I would be able to handle it. Boy was I wrong….Louisiana is so much worse! Take care and crank up the A/C. Hope you find a great vacation up north.

    1. Oh, my gosh, they’re the worst, right?! And I canNOT imagine being that pregnant in the middle of the summer here! The pollen is insane–I seriously thought it was a freak of nature occurrence the first year that we lived here, but nope, it’s for real. 🙂

  7. This isn’t really about this recipe (which looks so good!), but I didn’t know where else to ask this. Do you have any good April Fool’s Day recipes? Meatloaf pie/cupcakes frosted with mashed potatoes is all over the internet, but I can’t find anything else for a main dish. We’re doing a big date night and want to do something fun, but not something that everyone else will think of too. Thanks in advance!

    1. I know you’re not asking me and I don’t know if it’s even appropriate to offer, but I have a fun recipe for Ravioli in “tomato” sauce if you are interested.

  8. Just saw whole foods is running a contest for food bloggers to win Europe trip–that’ll get u outta the heat! 🙂 deadline march 30–sorry forgot to grab the link–just check their blog.

  9. That sounds delish!
    Isn’t it funny–you are dreading the hot weather already and here in MN we would give anything for it to be hot! (It’s been a really long winter…)

  10. I made a cake last year for my BYU (GO COUGS!!!)Softball player, bunt cake with a softball in the middle, baseball will work too! Absolutely love the dipping the pretzels and marshmellows idea!

    Sara and Kate…..you girls ROCk! As, do your followers!
    xoxo Tami (aka BYU Softball Mom).

  11. Yes, finally a post that my husband can get excited about (he does not get the whole food blog thing, however my cooking skills beg to differ). The hubby thinks kid number three will be named Jimmer no matter the gender 🙁 Thanks for the great ideas for our Thursday night get together! Go Cougs!

  12. Go BYU! We don’t have cable, so we are actually going to a restaurant to eat dinner & watch the game tonight. We have to do that for the big Byu-Utah game every year, too. The only catch- our little town only has 3 restaurants with TVs. Aw, the sacrifices you have to make as a True Blue fan! Cute post, guys!

  13. So, Kate, I am a Louisiana girl, born and raised. I know the summers are really hard, but the fall, winter, and spring are wonderful. I don’t know where you live, but yesterday…..even at 80……….was beautiful. I went out for a bike ride and basked in the sun and fabulous lime green leaves and amazing azaleas in bloom all over the neighborhood. Sorry you are having a tough time acclimating, but look for the beauty and don’t complain until August and September…..then spend alot of time in the pool!! BTW, where do you live in Louisiana? The church is so small here I probably know some of the same people as you!! HAHA

    1. You’re totally right, the other seasons definitely make up for it! 🙂 And I was grumpy last weekend because I got sunburned, but this week has been gorgeous. I live in Cenla–what about you?

  14. Well I grew up in Jena which is 45 minutes north of Alexandria but I live in Sulphur LA now with my family. My mother still lives there and is in the Winnfield Ward in the Monroe Stake.

  15. Well I grew up in Jena which is 45 minutes north of Alexandria but I live in the Southwest corner in Sulphur LA now with my family. My mother still lives there and is in the Winnfield Ward in the Monroe Stake.

  16. Used your yummy dressing on a Strawberry / Feta / Toasted Almond Salad for a dinner that I catered last night… OOOO… AHHHHH… that was the sound all night. Definately a new “go to”.

  17. Making this for lunch tomorrow. You made me toatally remember “spring” in Louisiana! Love bugs freaked me out. We could never grow much of anyhting in our garden except okra…you can’t kill that if you try and we tried.

  18. Hi Ladies,
    Can you tell me if rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are interchangeable? I have rice vinegar in my cupboard but not rice wine vinegar. Would you mind emailing your reply? Thanks so much!!!

  19. Hi ladies. I really enjoy your website and love your recipes. What oil do you think is the best substitute for canola oil?

  20. I totally misread the ingredients and saw “Red Wine Vinegar” instead of “Rice Wine Vinegar” and fortunately it still turned out great! I’m a complete amateur when it comes to cooking though so I don’t know the difference between the two! Is there much of a difference between the two vinegars?

    1. It’s okay Tawsha! Different types of vinegars have different flavors. Often, especially in salad dressings, they can be substituted for another type. It will give you a slightly different flavor, but still turn out okay!

  21. Made this dressing to go with a spinach and strawberry salad that I took to a potluck. It was great! Had people asking for the recipe.

  22. Ok so I started to make this dressing. Then I realized that I put in double the amount of poppy seeds. I’ll blame it on pregnancy brain. So, I decided to gamble on our relationship, trust that it was going to be delish, and doubled the recipe. As usual, you did not disappoint! This is a keeper!

  23. Is there a difference between Rice Vinegar and Rice Wine Vinegar? I have Rice Vinegar on hand and am hoping to use it ; ). Love your site, I think I’ve made almost everything on here!!!

  24. Odd question… but where can you find poppy seeds? I’ve looked at Meijer’s several times and never seem to find them.

    1. They should be easily found in a normal grocery store in the spice section. If you can’t find them, I’d ask a store employee or check another store, they shouldn’t be too hard to find!

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