Last August, I spent a relaxing week vacationing on North Carolina's Outer Banks with a friend (and fellow personal chef) and our husbands. Away from our work kitchen and surrounded by fresh seafood and summer's best produce, cooking was a real joy instead of part of the daily grind. No complicated menus, no stress, just a week of straightforward, satisfying meals made from scratch. The vacation kitchen is where easy-to-memorize recipes like this classic blue cheese dressing really shine.
Having a basic creamy salad dressing at the ready makes it easy to turn out no-fuss summer vacation food that feels a little fancy. Tangy, creamy blue cheese dressing has a singular taste, but is actually quite versatile; you can use it for dipping crunchy vegetables, drizzling over fat heirloom tomato slices, or — my personal favorite — dressing ice-cold wedges of iceberg topped with chives and crispy bacon.
Made with sour cream, buttermilk and a little mayo, this recipe has a rich blue cheese taste and stays thick and creamy for up to a week in the refrigerator. I like using Maytag blue cheese for a classic, not-too-pungent flavor, but feel free to use more intense cheese, like Roquefort, if that's your thing. Whip up a batch at the beginning of the week and use it over the next several days to dress up all the good vegetables that make summer cooking such a joy, whether you're on vacation or in your own kitchen at home.
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
4 ounces (about 1 heaping cup) blue cheese, crumbled 1/4 cup sour cream 1/4 cup buttermilk 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 2 tablespoons lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, use a fork to mash together the cheese and sour cream until it forms a chunky paste about the consistency of cottage cheese. Stir in the buttermilk, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
For a thicker dressing to use as a dip, reduce the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon.
To make a wedge salad, slice a head of iceberg lettuce into 4 quarters. Trim away the core. Drizzle each quarter with 1-2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing and top with 1 teaspoon minced chives and 1 slice of bacon, crumbled.