Vegan Versions: Apple Dill Vinaigrette (Oil Free)

by Maria Theresa Maggi on June 28, 2014

dried apple dill oil free and vegan vinaigrette


The day Mike and Kelly arrived to help me move, I could have been packing more of my stuff. But I was so overwhelmed instead I fell back on what relaxes me and helps me center: I went into the kitchen and made something up. I knew we would have to have good vegan fuel for all the work before us, so I baked us some sweet potatoes, made us a batch of Susan’s Barbecue Black-Eyed Pea  Burgers, and made sure I had an avocado and fresh collard greens from our Farmer’s Market to wrap them in. And we needed something special to splash on salad or grains. And thus this dressing was born.

It’s a knock off of my lemony pear dressing, which is a version of Susan’s Fat Free Balsamic Raisin Dressing. It came about because when I was sorting through the pantry I found some apples pieces I had dried long ago from neighborhood trees (which were still, miraculously, supple and delicious) and because there was a small field of fresh dill volunteering in the vegetable garden at the blue house. It turns out this dressing is marvelous on warm cooked millet with an extra topping of dill. And it turns out that the kids kept saying through the week as we searched for what vegan vittles to make and eat quickly “is there any of that dressing left?”

So here is the strategy for the dressing that brightened our salads and grains from the old neighborhood over to the new.


It can safely be said that what my professional son would call “the art department” of my blog is rather lazy and expedient when it comes to shooting photos for these recipes. I’ve not even bothered to create a simple “set” where I can photograph the food in the best setting and light to show it off. Instead, I’m mostly shoving all the spice bottles and clutter out of the way, or taking several pictures that try to mute them or leave them out as much as possible. So it surprised me when I looked at the “outtakes” for these dressing photos, and choked up to see the cheerful clutter of my old kitchen in the background of every one of them, including the recipe photo above: the pot rack bursting with pans, lids, strainers above the radio and the gardening pots full of ladles and wooden spoons; the dog walking paraphernalia near the back door,  the door to the bathroom that sticks when the wood expands in the spring; the mops and brooms leaning in between the hot water heater and a small narrow bookshelf turned pantry for jars of beans and grains; the wallpaper I still love peeling a little around the light switch; laundry detergent left on top of the washer. Suddenly these things seemed sacred, inviolable, inbued now with the light of the past. I felt like a traitor to have diassembled this inefficient porch turned kitchen where so many meals and memories were created over the last 20 years.

As atonement, here’s one of my favorites that took place right in the middle of the clutter of that kitchen, on my grandmother’s old metal black and white table when Mike and his buddy Nolan were 14. I found it written down in a Cook’s Notebook my mother had given me as a gift.  I didn’t much like the notebook itself, which was illustrated, since I would have prefered to draw the pictures myself. But I’ve kept it all these years because I wrote this in it. Picture junior high school boys with baggy ripped jeans, bleached out hair and t-shirts that read “Skateboarding is not a crime”:

“Christmas Eve, 1999

This year I walked Michael through the sugar cookie recipe. We chilled the dough the previous night and in the afternoon rolled and cut the cookies. Nolan arrived and we all did it together: me sitting at grandmere’s old table and them rolling out the dough and cutting out Christmas trees. The first half of dough looked like Africa. We laughed about that. Michael said, “why don’t I just put the whole thing on the cookie sheet, paint it brown, we’ll have a continent for Christmas and I’ll be all done!” I was happy and proud of Michael–he made a beautiful green egg paint for the trees–some were natural, some had green “frost” and others colored “lights.” I showed Nolan how to slap out a scrap of dough thin enough to make/cut a last cookie. They ate pieces of the sweet dough. I showed them how to flour the pastry cloth, their hands, the rolling pin. And for a time, these goofy 14 year olds in their skate t-shirts, orange hair and beanies were intent on creating beautiful cookie trees. It was relaxing to sit there as the magic rolled out with the dough and the kitchen was warm from the oven. I’ll never forget it.”


Since that time, Nolan’s Dad, who once shaved a quarter of an inch off one of the kitchen cupboards so my new refrigerator would fit under it, has passed away. Nolan is back up from Southern California, where he’s been skateboarding professionally, to help his Mom complete the home she and his Dad were building together. He’s also thinking of staying and trying out a semester at the University of Idaho. He came to help us move the big stuff and it was just like old times. So much love and laughter, so many memories, some loved ones gone, some here to welcome the new and feel the loss of the old.

In honor of all those powerful transitions and how things and places hold such memories, I’ll leave you with an outtake that evokes yet another fond memory of that kitchen:


Here we have Apple Dill Vinaigrette with Dishes Jumbled in Sink and Dish Drainer. The light and dark blue and the apple wall paper I love so much you can see in the background were a result of Mike and another friend of his, Cody, and their candle-making experiments at age 10, which they went ahead with against instructions to wait until a friend who was taking me to the store and I returned. They nearly burned the kitchen down. When we came back their eyes were wide with shock and remorse, and there was a huge swath of smoke stain across the ceiling and walls as a result of the wax bursting into flame. I was speechless. My friend, hailing from Montana, and having two grown kids and a teenager herself, was unflappable. “The thing to do, ” she said, looking around, “is to paint the kitchen. Michael, Cody, tomorrow I’ll come get you and we’ll go to the paint store and get the paint and the wallpaper, and you’ll paint the kitchen.” And that’s how I got my light and dark blue kitchen with the apples on the walls.

So, dear blue kitchen in a dear blue house, thanks for the great memories. And one last wonderful inspiration for this apple dill vinaigrette.

Maria (moonwatcher)

PS: Next up–what we made in the new kitchen. . .

Leave a Comment

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Silvia June 29, 2014 at 12:04 am

So nice to hear from you, Maria!
I hope everything goes well in your new house!
Greetings from your German reader Silvia


2 moonwatcher June 29, 2014 at 9:33 am

Thanks so much for the well wishes, Silvia! It’s nice to be “back”–even a little!


3 Veronique June 29, 2014 at 8:43 am

Good to hear from you! I hope the move, adapting to the new house and saying good bye to the blue house all goes well and your energy stays up and carries you through in one piece.
I don’t have dried apples and I don’t have mustard 🙁 so the dill will have to wait till tomorrow after I’ve gone shopping. Which is a shame as it looks and reads rather mouthwatering.
Good luck with everything!




4 moonwatcher June 29, 2014 at 9:33 am

Thanks, Veronique, I’m happy to have internet again and to be able to write this. I hope you enjoy the dressing, too!!


5 Kelly June 29, 2014 at 8:56 am

This made me tear up. Your writing is beautiful. I was surprised your kitchen looks very much like mine. The cabinetry nearly identical. We do know we want to move to the Spokane area, or even Idaho, but I worry about missing this old 1938 house with the curved archways, tile roof, sunroom, and orchards. I very much need to find an old house that is just as unique. Sounds like you have. Can’t wait to try your dressing as well. 🙂


6 moonwatcher June 29, 2014 at 9:36 am

Thanks so much, Kelly–it made me tear up, too. The week of moving and beyond turned out to be a very rich emotional one, both for me and my son. So neat you have nearly the same cabinetry in your house. Moving is a trade-off, and it takes a willingness to let go. Even then, the attachments and memories surprise and amaze. Your home sounds so lovely, and when it’s right you will find another in whatever place you need to be that’s every bit as lovely. I will hold that thought for you, and that others who love your old one will come along too, when the time is right. And yes, hope you enjoy the dressing too!!


7 Pam June 29, 2014 at 9:26 am

A wonderful tribute to your old kitchen. Hope you settle into the new place quickly. 🙂


8 moonwatcher June 29, 2014 at 9:37 am

Thanks Pam! Great to hear from you–things are set up and the settling process has begun. Not sure how quickly it will go, as I’m a slow motion kind of gal, but it’s going well, at whatever speed. And of course, I’ll be writing about that, so to be continued. . .really appreciate your well wishes from abroad!! xo 🙂


9 Veronica June 30, 2014 at 9:11 am

Sounds delicious!! I love dill and apples, and this would be a great one to keep around for an anytime salad or bowl!
I do the same thing with the photos; I know I should take a bit more time to set up proper lighting and background, but I’m more in the “I’m hungry and want to eat this right now” mindset so I just do my best at that moment and then eat. 🙂
The memories of a home: the cookies, the mishaps, the gatherings – saying goodbye to where it all happened, that you may never see that place again, makes you want to hold on to those memories even more.
Good luck in settling in at the new place! Can’t wait to start hearing the new stories. xoxo


10 moonwatcher June 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Hi Veronica–yes, I know what you mean about just wanting to eat! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words and understanding about the memories and the old place. Thanks to my sweet buyer, I will get to visit, but still, it won’t be the same anymore. She will make it her own. And that’s as it should be. So yes, I’m really grateful for all the rich memories. xo


11 Marcia June 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Hello! I lost the message you wrote about re-growing romaine lettuce plants and cannot find it on your website. Any chance you can send me in the right direction?

A question about today’s recipe. I don’t have any dehydrated apples but I do have some granny smith apples. Would that be okay and how does it change the process to use them? Thanks!



12 moonwatcher June 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Hi Marcia–there’s lots of them out there, but here’s the hyperlink from my “What Hope Looks Like” post, which will take you to a blog page for how to regrow romaine:

And yes, as I mentioned in the notes of the Apple Dill Vinaigrette recipe, you can try using 1/2 cup fresh chopped apple and reduce the water. I would just add water by the tablespoon until you get the consistency you want without weakening the flavors. Good luck! 🙂


13 Marcia July 1, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Thank you for the link. I have put one in the kitchen window and will do as they suggest. Hoping for the best!

Thank you for straightening me out about using fresh apples vs. dried. I guess I missed that part in your message.


14 Veronique July 1, 2014 at 12:13 am

Hi Marcia,

I also used an apple instead of dried apples. I would wait with the lemon juice and taste first. A fresh apple is less sweet than a dried one and you want to make sure the sweet and sour balance is right.



15 Veronique July 1, 2014 at 12:18 am

Ps: about growing the lettuce back: after a week or 1,5 the lettuce starts growing roots. You will then want to move it to the garden or a pot with some rich rich organic soil. There aren’t any nutrients in tap water which the lettuce needs if you want it to be nutritious and healthy. I do it and it works real easy.


16 Marcia July 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Thank you for both your helpful messages, I appreciate it. I just put my first one in the kitchen window. Unfortunately, I trimmed off the bottom so I guess it will take longer. I’ll have another one available soon and will resist the urge to trim it!


17 Jerianne Brennan July 1, 2014 at 12:08 am

The rhythm of life and a fistful of dill sure makes for a great summer’s day! While reading about your kitchen’s warmth and capers, I could hear your mom & mine smiling (yes, one can hear a smile) and humming right along to Maria..
Surely will make both dressings in a week or two.


18 moonwatcher July 1, 2014 at 8:37 am

Welcome, Jerianne!! So great to hear from you here on the blog! Thank you for this beautiful comment–it brought your mother’s own smile back to me and all the times I had such great conversations with her in the little kitchen on 36th (I think I have the street name right, I can sure see the kitchen!) And then also in her kitchen when she moved over to Hollywood Park. So nice to feel (and hear) both of our Moms smiling together about all this–hope you enjoy the taste of the dressing, too!! xo


19 Olwyn July 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I made it with 1/3 apple s I had no dried apple. It was delicious and the guys liked it which is always a coup for me. Excellent to find sauces and dressings oil free and tasty. Thank you!


20 moonwatcher July 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Welcome, Olwyn! Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the dressing. So happy to hear your guys liked it too! 🙂


21 Judy Bernes July 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Honey, if you’re going to continue to live in any kind of good health, you seriously need to add some (or a lot) of healthy oils to your diet! You scare me! Your brain, for one, is made mostly of fat. Did you know that? It needs nutrition too. Coconut oil, minimally, camelina or hemp.
The diseases you’re living with could be so much smaller………..
PS: I’ve only come across a couple of your recipes and when I add an organic healthy oil, they really come to life!


22 moonwatcher July 23, 2014 at 8:41 am

HI Judy,
The purpose of my blog is to share and reflect on how an oil free low fat whole food plant based diet has changed my health and my life for the better in amazing ways. Before I began eating this way, I ate as you suggest and did not see any improvement, only decline. Once I started eating this way my health has improved to the point that I was asked to share my experience and recipes from the last several years here on the Fat Free Vegan site. I have been able to do that and much much more, as careful reading of my blog entries will show. I am committed to this way of eating and the science that supports it. I hope you can respect that this is not the place to insist that I or anyone else add oil to their diet in order to be healthy. I won’t be approving any more comments that insist on dietary recommendations that undermine the purpose of my blog.


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