Creamy cilantro lime dressing has an incredible zesty flavor and only requires a few ingredients. This addictive oil-free dressing elevates salads, tacos, and wraps in just minutes.
There must be more.
Setting off to make a Mexican-inspired dressing with cilantro, lime, and chili powder, I tried a few thickeners. My go-to ground chia and flax seeds didn’t quite do the trick and I found ground hemp seeds a bit bitter.
And then, I discovered that bag of pepitas.
You only need a quarter of a cup of ground pepitas and I can’t tell you exactly what happens, but the result is something akin to a spicy cilantro-lime smoothie.
Pepitas or pumpkin seeds?
For years, I thought that pepitas were just the insides of the pumpkin seeds I religiously retrieved from the Jack O’lanterns we carved at Halloween. Well, sort of.
Pepitas are pumpkin seeds but don't go looking for them after you bring out the sledgehammer to shell your pumpkin seeds. Pepitas are the seeds from a particular pumpkin, Styrian, green and orange striped, and thin-skinned. Not the big, orange carving kind of pumpkins.
Pepitas grow shell-less inside the pumpkin, so the only breaking you need to do is what happens when you grind them for making the dressing.
How to grind pepitas
The best place to start this quick dressing recipe is grinding the pepitas. You don’t want to just toss all the ingredients into a blender and hope for the best. Unless you have a super-duper high powdered blender, there won’t be enough friction to grind down the pepitas. So grind first and add the rest of the ingredients later.
I discovered 2 ways to accomplish this task. The first is to use a spice grinder. This is your best bet if you don’t have a high-speed blender. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you don't need to use one salad dressing as an excuse. This little device, which is sometimes and an additional part of your food processor, is handier than you might think.
If you don’t have a spice grinder, I also tried my every day, not-so-high-powered blender. It did the job although I did shake it a few times to ensure all the pepitas were ground.
The convenience of using the blender is that after you grind, you just toss the cilantro, lime, chili powder, maple syrup (or agave syrup) in, and give it a spin. I found the blender better for this purpose than my food processor as there just wasn’t enough volume to get a good blend from it. If you have a mini-processor, that would probably work.
Emphasis on the 'lime' in the cilantro lime dressing. Along with this a note. If you want to thin out your dressing, use a bit of water rather than more lime juice. Otherwise, it can get a bit strong.
Likewise, I cut the chili powder to ½ a teaspoon because my first batch was too spicy. Because I used an off-the-shelf chili powder, that runs on the hot side, that was the right amount for our taste.
You’ll want to adjust the chili powder according to your preferences. This depends on the chili powder you use. When in doubt, start with a pinch and add more. Remember, when it comes to spices (and salt), it a game of addition, never subtraction.
Even if you aren’t particular about oil-free dressings, this cilantro lime dressing is a real gem. You can whip it up fresh in no time and it gives salad greens a new zest. You can even keep it a bit thicker and turn it into a healthy dip for tortilla chips or veggies. It also makes a great healthy alternative to mayo or other spreads for wraps or even burgers.
I’ve always spent time tinkering in the kitchen and I’ve accepted that there will always be near misses, outright failures, and some unidentifiable disasters. Some ideas will be completely abandoned and filed under ‘what were you thinking’ and others will improve or morph into something completely new.
With unlimited combinations of plant-based ingredients out there, kitchen creativity never has to stop. And when you land on a gem, even a simple creamy dressing, you should celebrate and share. Maybe, in the case of a creamy, yummy dressing, make extra before you share. It’s easy enough for a double batch after all. Peace.Print
Creamy cilantro lime dressing
Creamy, addictive cilantro lime dressing with 5 ingredients is the perfect oil-free, dairy-free addition to spice up salads, tacos, burgers, and wraps.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes (to blend)
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings (2 Tbsp. each) 1x
- Category: Dressings & Condiments
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegan
- ¼ cup raw pepitas, ground
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves and stems (about 2 cups loosely packed)
- ¾ cups lime juice
- ½ tsp. chili powder (you may want to adjust according to taste)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, agave syrup or another liquid sweetener
- Using a spice grinder or blender, grind ¼ cup pepitas into a powder.
- Combine the ground pepitas, coriander, lime juice, chili powder, and maple syrup in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Makes about 1 cup.
- You may find blending easier if you roughly chop the cilantro before adding it to the blender.
- Keep unused dressing in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Keywords: cilantro lime dressing