Ranch dressing from a bottle (or mixed from a packet) has a strong allegiance to my culinary childhood and for that reason alone I will not disparage it, just as I will not speak against pop tarts or packaged mac'n'cheese. But now that I'm an adult (what?), I prefer fresh flavors and real ingredients over the powdered additives and unknowable, unpronounceable chemicals of bottled dressings. This creamy ranch dressing, made with fresh herbs and a dollop of yogurt, is a lively new take on a classic favorite. Give it a try!
Ranch dressing is an extremely versatile condiment. Classically, it is poured over iceberg lettuce, but it is just as delicious on other lettuces such as Romaine or Little Gems, as well as sturdy greens such as fresh spinach. It also makes a great crudités dip for raw carrots, radishes, fennel. And it's fantastic drizzled over fish tacos. (Rumor also has it you can dip something called Buffalo Wings in it, but I have no first hand experience with this.)
This recipe is based on a favorite from Ina Garten but I've made a few changes over the years, basically cutting back the salt and switching out the more traditional buttermilk for plain yogurt which I am more apt to have in my refrigerator. Be sure to check out the notes for more variations!
Creamy, Herby Ranch Dressing
makes about 2 cups
3 scallions white and green parts chopped, about 1/4 cup
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon nice olive oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup good mayonnaise (Hellman's/Best Foods)
1 cup plain yogurt (I use whole milk)
If you're using a food processor, add the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to the work bowl and pulse a few times to incorporate. You don't want to puree this, just blend it up a little. Add the mayonnaise and yogurt and pulse once or twice again to blend. Scrape into a jar and refrigerate.
Alternatively, you can just stir all the ingredients together in a bowl. Just be sure you've chopped the onion, basil and garlic fine enough.
I find that the flavors are best after a day's rest so if you can, make this a day ahead of serving. It lasts about a week in the refrigerator.
If you are using this as a dip, you may want to use a thicker yogurt, such as Greek-style. If you are using this as a salad dressing and you think it's too thick, thin it with a splash of milk or buttermilk. A very forgiving recipe!
If you want to use the traditional buttermilk, substitute the plain yogurt with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
If you don't have green onions, you can substitute finely chopped shallots or sweet red onion to equal 1/4 cup.
Basil is my preferred herb here but you can replace it, all or in part, with parsley. A bit of fresh tarragon is nice, too, although I add about 1 tablespoon of finely chopped tarragon to the 1/2 cup of parsley instead of doing the full 1/2 cup substitute.
Variation: Sprinkle in a bit of powdered chipotle or smoked paprika for some smokey heat!
Related: Quick & Easy Dressing: Miso & Citrus
(Images: Dana Velden)