Poppy Seed Dressing

Making salad dressing at home is quick and inexpensive. Most dressings use basic pantry ingredients that you most likely already have on hand. I love this dressing because it’s creamy without adding mayonnaise or dairy.

This dressing goes particularly well on salads that contain fruit. Here are some ideas:

  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • peaches or nectarines
  • mangoes
  • apples

I also love adding a candied nut or seed like pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pumpkin seeds for a sweet and salty crunch. Toasting and candying nuts takes only a few minutes.

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How to Candy Nuts and Seeds

  • Toast the nuts or seeds (1 cup) in a skillet over medium heat, tossing constantly so they don’t burn.
  • Add a bit of butter to coat. (2 Tbsp)
  • Add brown sugar. (2 Tbsp)
  • Toss until nuts are coated and sugar is melted.
  • Pour out onto parchment paper, spreading out the nuts in one layer.
  • Sprinkle with Jay’s Spice or salt.
  • Let cool before topping your salad.

Poppy Seed Dressing

A creamy dressing without the dairy that uses pantry ingredients.

Course Salad, sauce
Cuisine American
Keyword dressing, poppyseed, salad dressing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author SL


  • 1 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. onion flakes
  • 1 tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil


  1. Combine all ingredients in the cup for an immersion blender or a blender.

  2. Blend until creamy.

Recipe Notes

Serve over salad containing fresh fruit and candied nuts. 

Prep strategies

As always, I recommend making a double batch to use for the week or making a few dressings at a time and storing them in mason jars. For five more salad dressings using pantry staples, click here.

Slow Cooker Marinara

This recipe has limited hands-on prep time. All you have to do is pop the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it go all day. Leftovers can be portioned and frozen for later.

Serve this marinara over pasta or chicken parm. It can also be used as a chunkier pizza sauce.

Slow Cooker or Stove-top

You’ll save the most time on this recipe by making it in the slow cooker, however, it’s also quite simple to make on the stove. I prefer the slow cooker method because it allows the flavors to develop and is hands-off.

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This sauce can be served over your favorite pasta and can be used to top your chicken parmesan. Feel free to add veggies, cooked ground meat, or meatballs to customize it. I love adding cooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, and peppers to make it hearty.

Portion and freeze the leftovers

Allow the sauce to cool before portioning and freezing it. I like to store it in medium-sized Ziploc bags, and frozen flat so the store and stack nicely in the freezer. One cup portions would be great if using for a dish like chicken parmesan, and 2-3 cup portions are better for using it as a pasta sauce if you’re adding veggies or meat. In the end, choose portion amounts based on how you intend to use the sauce in the future.

Slow Cooker Marinara

A hands-free marinara recipe using pantry staples.

Course Main Course, pasta, sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword easy meals, marinara, quick meals, slow cooker, slow-cooker meals
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 7 cups
Author SL


  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 28 oz.
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz.
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Diced onion and mince garlic.

  2. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.

  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

  4. Allow sauce to cool before portioning and freezing.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made on the stove-top.  Sauté onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes.  It can also be pureed with an immersion blender for a smoother sauce.