The base of this dressing is silken tofu, which resembles custard. In addition to the spicy Dijon mustard and chopped capers, the fresh dill helps cut through the tofu’s rich creaminess. Though native to the Mediterranean, dill as a seasoning is probably most connected with the cuisines of Scandinavia and Central Europe. The plant’s feathery fronds resemble those of the fennel plant, a relative of dill.
The flaxseed oil in this dressing supplies alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that the body converts, in limited amounts, into DHA and EPA (the omega-3s in fish that are linked with health benefits). ALA may also have anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties on its own. Other sources of ALA include canola and soybean oils and walnuts. Flaxseed oil has a deep, nutty flavor.
Ginger is pretty commonplace in today’s Western cuisine, but when the Spanish explorers first brought it from the East Indies into Spain in the 16th century, it was considered a delicacy. Other interesting trivia: The ginger we eat is the plant’s rhizome, an underground stem often incorrectly referred to as a root. Maximize the tart contribution of the lime in this dish by choosing a very green one: The fruit turns more yellow as it ripens, and correspondingly diminishes in acidity.
Other than mincing a shallot, this dressing takes almost zero preparation. The splash of orange juice adds a little folate, potassium, vitamin C, and some other nutrients. Balsamic vinegar does not offer much in the way of nutrition, but delivers plenty of flavor with little to no sodium. To avoid buying fraudulent balsamic vinegar, look for the word “tradizionale” on the label. “Grape must” or “aged grape must” should be listed as an ingredient.
If you’re not a fan of the pungent centerpiece of this dressing, you may want to skip it. But if you’re a garlic lover, or even a garlic liker, you’ll find this recipe an excellent lower-calorie substitute for ranch dressing on salads or as a dipping sauce. Thanks to the silken tofu, it’s also a good source of isoflavones, substances in soy that may have health benefits.