Dressing For Success

Tired of the same ol’, same ol’ salad dressings? Why not skip the processed bottled stuff and turn to a delicious homemade version that can be whipped up in minutes? Not only do these become the star of the show on any number of salads, but they’re also fabulous on chicken, fish, shrimp, as sandwich spreads and used as dips. Now that’s versatility!

For me, and I’m sure most of you too, summertime cooking is about ease and simplicity. And what fits that criteria better than a big healthy(ish) salad? Summer here in the Northeast U.S. is in full swing, with temps soaring into the 90’s, so a dinner salad without much fuss makes a lot of sense to me.

Back in mid-May, we grilled up a couple of gigundo porterhouse steaks for (one of) Russ’ birthday dinner, with ample portions leftover, so we figured it would make for a perfect weeknight salad. Then our recent Fine Cooing Magazine arrived in the mail, with an article of the same name as this blog, covering eight different homemade dressings. Serendipity I say! The Buttermilk Ranch Dressing seemed like the perfect companion, so that’s the one we went with.

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Because salad dressings often contain small amounts of fresh herbs, it’s tempting to substitute dried. If you’re looking for vibrant flavor though, fresh herbs are the way to go. This ranch uses both, but if you have some fresh thyme on hand, go ahead and throw that in instead. The dressing improves with time, and the flavor is best if you can let it sit for at least an hour before serving. Store any leftovers in a glass container with a tight lid for up to a week.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own homegrown chives in bloom, snip off a flower and use as a garnish—they are edible BTW. This Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is great with vegetable crudités, perfect for upcoming parties and picnics.

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And for yet another twist on ranch dressings to elevate your meal, try this tasty Avocado Ranch Dressing. Avocado provides the creamy richness of mayonnaise, with the arugula adding a bitter balance. It was a splendid topping on a Chicken Cobb Salad—and using a store-bought rotisserie chicken simplifies the process. You can also try it with crudités and chicken wings or use it in wraps. Recipe follows the Buttermilk below.

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Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  • Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 2 tsp. grated yellow onion or 1/2 tsp. granulated onion
  • 1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice or white-wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste or 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • Pinch paprika
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream until smooth.
  2. Stir in the onion, lemon juice, chives, parsley, garlic, thyme, and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a week.
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Avocado Ranch Dressing

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Avocado Ranch Dressing

  • Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients
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  • 1/3 cup mashed avocado (about 1 small)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh scallion
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic paste or a pinch of granulated garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. minced arugula
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Scoop the avocado and sour cream into a blender or food processor.
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  2. Add the buttermilk, scallions, and garlic. Purée until smooth.
  3. Transfer the avocado mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the vinegar, arugula, parsley, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 1 week.
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Both salad dressings recipes courtesy of Erin Coopley from Fine Cooking

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