The best-dressed salads, steamed and roasted vegetables, pasta and even nachos are all wearing homemade ranch dressing: It ain’t an American classic for nothing. Add jalapeno, chipotle, roasted garlic or finely minced kimchi to up the ante.
You know the saying, “Manners maketh man”? Well, it is my firm belief that dressings maketh salad. This might not be strictly true, but dressings and sauces can certainly be deal-breakers.
Dressings and sauces are the pearl necklace, Louboutins, or Hermes scarf to a simple salad. Or they should be. It’s that just-so accoutrement that if got wrong ruins the whole look – or taste, but if spot-on is dead-right. And not showy about it. Plain iceberg with a fab homemade dressing will always beat a fancy plate of heritage this and thats dressed with emulsifier- and thickener-filled shop bought. Always.
Making your own dressing or sauce – this one does double duty – is the ultimate in culinary control. Which I like. Compare a shop-bought hollandaise with a homemade one. Or a strident yet weirdly sweet jar pasta sauce with your own, stirred-with-love effort. No comparison. Dressings are even easier. And have just as much impact. Get that acid to oil balance just right and you have a friend for life. The 3:1 ratio of oil to acid is where good dressings begin.
This simple dressing/sauce is one of my favourites, although it doesn’t strictly adhere to the above classic ratio. In contravention to my own rather spiky tastes in dressing, this American classic – drizzled on salad but also over boiled potatoes, asparagus (shower with chopped hb egg while you are at it), used as a dip, over pasta (with avocado, crab and jalapeno is divine!), and loads of other dishes that can/should be titivated with ranch dressing – is creamy, creamy, creamy. Something I usually run a mile from. But this creamy dressing is comprised of naturally low-fat buttermilk (the liquid that separates out from traditional butter making. Or used to at any rate.) and a touch of best quality mayonnaise. And it really has to be best quality: either homemade mayonnaise (just ignore the chipotle in this instance) or something like Delouis, Stokes or in the US, Dukes.
But thinking about it mayo is one of those things about which many people are uncommonly loyal, so if you have to have Hellmans, do so. Just don’t let me know about it.
So, raid the garden veg plot, the farmer’s market or a green grocer for best tomatoes, beets and summer squash, and treat your mouth to the simplest, easy-luxe salad and dressing ever. And remember, all the best salads wear ranch.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
The best-dressed salads, steamed and roasted vegetables, pasta and even nachos are all wearing homemade ranch dressing. It ain’t an American classic for nothing. Add jalapeno, chipotle, roasted garlic or finely minced kimchi to up the ante.
Here is a link to a vegan raw ranch dressing from healthyblenderrecipes.com.
100ml buttermilk OR plain yogurt slaked with a little water (in a pinch)
2 tbsp best quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp each finely chopped dill or fennel fronds, parsley and chives
1/4 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder (if you only have garlic powder, that’s okay)*
small pinch of sugar if needed to balance flavours (I don’t do this though)
* normally I stipulate raw ingredients over dried but in this instance the dried, powdered onion and garlic blends so much better and tastes lovely. Just don’t accidentally use garlic salt as that is a completely different thing.
Add all ingredients to a jug and whisk or stir until completely blended; taste and adjust flavours as needed. Store the ranch dressing in a lidded jar and use within 3 days.
The salad shown consists of heritage tomatoes, yellow beets and summer squash and is garnished with a torn squash blossom (lovely and peppery), and some tiny yellow flowers from an over-blown broccoli plant.
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