One of my white trash pleasures is Ranch dressing. Back in the 1950’s, Steve and Gayle Hensen invented the original dressing recipe on their Hidden Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara, California. They began bottling it for their eager Ranch guests and then branched out by selling a seasoning packet to mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk. (Read more history of ranch dressing)
Although I tend to use olive oil and balsamic vinegar as my daily, go-to salad sauce, the creamy, decadent Ranch goodness tops my list when acidity dominates the other items on my plate (like Baked Tilapia with Fire Roasted Tomatoes or Shrimp with Sauteed Fennel). But bottled Ranch dressing — and I won’t use any other brand but Hidden Valley since all others I’ve tried are too sweet — is freakin’ expensive. The ingredient list (with a couple questionable ingredients) is mostly stuff you can buy cheaply but also innovate and improve at home for pennies. For seriously much less calories. Win, win, win.
This Ranch dressing recipe takes about five minutes to throw together and it lasts up to ten days if kept in a sealed container in the fridge. Seriously delicious over any green salad, as a dip for raw vegetables or as a sauce on grilled vegetables.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
Makes 1 cup
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 sour cream (the fat-free version is simply disgusting – avoid it)
1 fresh garlic clove, minced (only use fresh here – you need the “bite”)
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 1 /2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill or 1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
3-4 grinds of the pepper mill or 1/4 teaspoon pre-ground
1/8 teaspoon Accent (This is the major secret — MSG. You can make it without Accent but it’s not the same. This is an interesting article analyzing the hype behind MSG)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk until combined. Cover and chill at least an hour before using.