March 17, 2011
Homemade Ranch Dressing
I was raised in the American tradition of meat and potatoes for dinner. Dinner always had meat. Dinner was defined by meat. My father would buy, with my grandfather and uncle, a cow and then raise it have it butchered. My grandfather would have his old heifer cows butchered and then shared the meat with family members. Knowing the cow's name that you are eating isn't such a great thing - old Beth and Pete. I hated and couldn't eat steak for a long long time.
As a teenager when my father worked the night shift, my mother would make "salad for dinner" during the hottest part of the summer. It was an adventure to eat salad for dinner because we rarely did it and it was special. Really anything that breaks the routine is a grand thing to the psyche. My mother did not make a simple salad with greens alone, she would put whatever was in the vegetable crisper in the salad - lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, oranges, canned fruit salad, olives, hard boiled eggs, shredded cheese etc. Then she would mix up a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing from a packet (that is all they sold at the time) with mayonaise and pour it over the salad. She would serve this salad with a side of Top Ramen soup and boiled eggs.
Ranch salad dressing has always been a favorite. When my children were younger it was the rage among the moms to top all their kids' food with ranch dressing to get them to eat. I didn't push the ranch dressing in that way but when I became more aware of ingredients, I stopped buying the ranch dressing and I started making it. Here is an easy recipe for homemade ranch dressing that uses my favorite ingredient buttermilk.
makes about 1 cup
1 clove of garlic peeling, minced and then chopped and smashed on a cutting board with coarse salt (this is so the garlic is able to blend into the dressing versus pieces of it or you can just mince it).
3/4 cup of buttermilk
2 to 3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tablespoon of fresch minced parsley
1 Tablespoon of fresh chopped onion, red onion, shallot, chives - I prefer the shallot and/or red onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
If you like a thicker consistency add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sour cream or mayonaise (I use the sour cream for its tangy freshness).
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk or a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine.
It is best if the dressing has some time to let the flavors develop though I usually use it right away. Store in refrigerator.
from the Joy of Cooking