For all of you out there who were like me and just hoping for a good game last night, was that a disappointment or what?! We started counting how many times someone in the room said, “Are you kidding me?!” At least the commercials and the half-time show were entertaining and eats were tasty. We kept everything very simple with a taco bar, Mexican chopped salad and pizzas. For snacking during the game, we had lots of guacamole, salsa and chips, naturally, and a huge raw vegetable platter with hummus, spinach dip and this homemade Ranch dressing. I was very happy to fill up on lots of veggies so that I didn’t overdo it on pizza and tacos later.
I had to come up with a cleaned up homemade Ranch dressing years ago for my husband because it’s his favorite on salads and I just can’t handle buying the bottled version. Just read the ingredients on a label of Hidden Valley Ranch and you’ll understand why. Even though I prefer a lemon juice or apple cider vinegar-based salad dressing, I think Ranch can sometimes really hit the spot and I do like it as a dip for crisp vegetables, too. I taught this dressing in a summer cooking class over big slabs of ripe tomatoes and avocado with some raw corn. So good! And I love the idea of pouring a dressing into little cups with a few raw vegetable sticks for a party appetizer.
Traditional Ranch dressing is herby and contains buttermilk and usually sour cream. But I make mine with Greek yogurt, Vegenaise and kefir (pronounced kee-fer,) a fermented dairy product which is a little like a liquidy yogurt. You can definitely use buttermilk and regular mayonnaise if you want. But my girls really like kefir in the their smoothies and I usually have some in the refrigerator. I also think it’s a bit better than buttermilk from a nutritional perspective. Here’s an excerpt from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions which is very interesting: “Kefir is a cultured and microbial-rich food that helps restore the inner ecology. It contains strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria (in a symbiotic relationship) that give kefir antibiotic properties. A natural antibiotic–and it is made from milk! The finished product is not unlike that of a drink-style yogurt, but kefir has a more tart, refreshing taste and contains completely different organisms…kefir does not feed yeast, and it usually doesn’t even bother people who are lactose intolerant. That’s because the friendly bacteria and the beneficial yeast growing in the kefir consume most of the lactose and provide very efficient enzymes (lactase) for consuming whatever lactose is still left after the culturing process…kefir is mucous forming, but…the slightly mucous-forming quality is exactly what makes kefir work for us. The mucous has a clean quality to it that coats the lining of the digestive tract, creating sort of a nest where beneficial bacteria settle and colonize.”
If you can’t tolerate any dairy, even fermented ones, I do have a great vegan version of this recipe that you can follow below. And if you don’t have fresh chives and parsley for this recipe, even half the amount of dried will do. Like most dressings and vinaigrettes, Ranch can be enjoyed all year long. However, keep in mind that creamy dressings go better with sturdier, more crispy lettuces like romaine. No matter how you enjoy it, I think you’ll agree this is the freshest, best-tasting Ranch you’ve ever had!
- ½ cup soy-free Vegenaise or good quality mayonnaise
- ½ cup full-fat Greek plain, unsweetened yogurt
- ½ cup buttermilk or plain, unsweetened kefir
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 medium clove garlic, grated or minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
¼ cup vegenaise
¾ cup raw cashews soaked in water for 3 hours, then drained
1 cup fresh water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium clove garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 scallion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Place everything except the herbs into a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Stir in the herbs by hand and transfer to a container.