Once you try homemade ranch, there's no turning back. The stuff in the bottle tastes like school lunch food, something to tolerate in seventh grade but to unilaterally shun as an adult. I admit the little packets of Hidden Valley have a pleasant flavor and tang, but the really authentic real buttermilk dressing is vastly superior. For my favorite version, I've updated the flavor of traditional Ranch by adding a pinch of hot pepper, lots of fresh lemon juice and some fresh cilantro.
Plus this Ranch o' my heart is just better for you. It has some mayonnaise, that's a given, but really not that much in the grand scheme of things. My dressing is less than 1/3 fat, compared to almost 100 percent fat for the bottled stuff. (Less than 4 grams of fat per tablespoon for my version, compared to up to 13 grams of fat for some bottled versions-not to mention all of the icky additives, etc.) You can make it even lighter by using light mayo or whole milk yogurt, but for the best quality, stick with good old mayo-preferably Hellman's or Best Food's.
But here you are at Prudence Pennywise, not just for good health and good eats, but also to save a buck. Check out the tips below to be see substitutions and money saving ideas. Any way you do it, making homemade dressing will put some girth in your pocketbook, right where you want it. Stay tuned-tomorrow I'm showcasing a chicken and cornbread salad, smothered in this ranch dressing.
Make it Cheap Tips: If you can't find a cheap lemon, use limes, or even cider vinegar (about 3 tablespoons.) Grated onion can replace the scallions. You can also make some "fake" buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a 1 cup measuring cup. Pour in milk to the top and let stand for five minutes.
New Fashioned Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Estimated Cost: $1.75
Notes: You'll love this crowd pleasing dressing on plain greens, for dipping with vegetables, or even chicken strips or fries.
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise, or whole milk yogurt
1 cup low fat or fat free buttermilk
juice of one whole lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (parsley, basil, or dill also work well)
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
dash of cayenne or chipotle chili powder, or other spicy chili powder
You can make this in the blender by processing all ingredients until smooth, or follow the directions below.
In a small bowl, mash garlic and salt to form paste. Stir in mayonnaise and buttermilk, whisking until smooth. Add in lemon juice, cilantro, scallions, pepper, and chili powder. Taste dressing and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Dressing will keep for two weeks in the fridge, if you are careful not to dip in a finger-good luck with that!
Chicken and Cheddar Cornbread Salad with New Fashioned Buttermilk Ranch