It’s April, which means temperatures are warming, the sun is beaming, my herbs are growing, and the local farmer’s markets are open longer hours with tons of beautiful produce. I love swinging by the market on a sunny Saturday morning to see what’s available. I buy cute little baby potatoes, vibrantly colored cherry tomatoes, and crunchy salad greens. For the first trip of the season, I picked up some fabulous red leaf lettuce, a dill plant, and these truly amazing purple radishes. When I got back home and looked at my haul, I knew I had to make some homemade ranch dressing.
Ranch dressing is a salad bar staple, not to mention a requirement of the southern table. I really wasn’t a fan of it until a few years ago. I’m not sure why; ranch is tangy, herbaceous and goes well with practically everything! I use it for salads obviously, but I also like to use it as a dip for baby carrots and radishes for a nice snack, and let’s not forget how good ranch is with fried chicken tenders! Pepperoni pizza is also amazing with an added dollop of ranch….don’t knock it until you try it.
The ranch dressing is a snap to put together. A little herb chopping, some garlic grating (more on that in a minute), a quick bit of stirring and voila, you’ve got a creamy salad dressing that keeps for weeks! You can use the dressing right away, however I’d suggest letting it hang out in the refrigerator for an hour. The flavors get some time to meld and everything becomes more herby and delicious.
My version of ranch forgoes the commonly used buttermilk for a container of sour cream. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have buttermilk in the fridge and always have sour cream. The tanginess from the sour cream is the perfect counterpoint to the creaminess of the mayonnaise.
Garlic is a really important flavor in ranch dressing; I think it adds a little punch of spice. Instead of mincing, I use a microplane to grate a clove of garlic into the dressing. I feel like the garlic is more evenly distributed throughout the dressing this way. I also like to add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a teeny bit of added heat against the cool dairy base.
Later Saturday evening, my salad and ranch dressing were served alongside one of Chris’s perfectly cooked steaks and some creamy mashed potatoes. The dressing was perfect! It had a bright tang that contrasted well the richness of the meat. I even found myself adding a few spoonfuls of dressing to my mashed potatoes. It looks like ranch dressing really does go with everything!
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Milk
1 Garlic Clove, grated
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoon Chives, chopped
1 Tablespoon Dill, chopped
A Pinch of Crush Red Pepper (optional)
Stir ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour for flavors to meld.