After a long holiday week of binge eating turkey and cookies, Betsy and I got off the plane and the first thing she said was, “Can we just eat salad for a week?”
I was happy to oblige for at least one dinner. My body was sort of screaming at me to pack in some veggies.
A lot of times I hear people say that they can’t make a meal out of salad and my response normally is, “You’re not making the right kind of salad!”
For me, a salad can definitely be a meal if it has a lot of different vegetables, textures, and flavors. One key element of the salad, for me, is always a delicious dressing.
While ranch dressing can be heavy, a little goes a long way and the subtle spice and herb flavors of this version can really round out a salad and make it a full meal.
1) Dice garlic clove and add it to a bowl with a pinch of salt. Using a fork, mash the garlic and salt together to form a garlic paste.
2) Mince all the fresh herbs and add them the garlic paste. Mash them all together a bit and combine them well.
3) Mince jalapeno finely and add to the bowl. If you want the dressing to be really spicy, leave in seeds and pith of the pepper.
4) Add mayonnaise and greek yogurt to the bowl and stir well. Add in lime juice as well.
5) Thin the dressing out with buttermilk until it's the desired consistency. For a dip I would use 1/4 cup, for a dressing, use 1/2 cup.
6) Stir or shake dressing together well and use immediately or store for a week or two in the fridge.
Ranch dressing normally has sour cream in it, but I subbed Greek yogurt to make it somewhat healthier. Of course, it still has mayonnaise and buttermilk.
You can’t win them all.
The good news is that because of all the delicious herbs and stuff, just a few tablespoons of this dressing will add a lot of flavor to any salad. You don’t need to drown your salad to add a lot of flavor to it.
Mincing and Mashing
When I’m making a dressing or sauce with garlic in it, I like to mince my clove of garlic and then add it to a bowl with a pinch of kosher salt. Then I grab a fork and just kind of mash the garlic and salt together.
This releases a lot of the juices in the garlic and makes a salty garlic paste. It’s why you definitely only need one clove of garlic for this recipe. Two would be over-powering.
Besides the garlic, take the time to really mince up the ingredients finely. It’s a dressing after all and you don’t want any huge pieces of any one thing.
For the jalapeno, I decided to take out the seeds and just mince the pepper. I think if I made this again, I would actually leave the seeds and pith of the pepper in to make it even a bit more spicy.
It’s just personal preference though. If you want it spicier, leave in the seeds and pith. If you want it more mild, take them out!
All the herbs should be diced pretty finely. While you could leave out the dill in this recipe, I think the parsley and chives are pretty mandatory.
Once all your herbs are chopped, add them to the bowl with the garlic paste. Squeeze in some fresh lime juice and mash everything together a bit to combine the flavors.
A Dip or a Dressing?
After your herbs are chopped and mixed, stir in the mayo and greek yogurt.
Then comes the decision part. Do you want a dip or a dressing? If you want a dip, add in just a tiny bit of buttermilk to give it some tang but leave it thick. If you’re shooting for a dressing, thin it out more with the buttermilk.
I used about 1/2 cup of buttermilk for my dressing version. At the end of the day though, you could thin it out more or less. Again, it’s personal preference on this.
When I’m making a salad as a meal, I like to pile on lots of interesting flavors and textures. Sometimes this can mean a protein like grilled chicken, but it doesn’t have to. In this case, I didn’t add any meat.
I did add some homemade croutons though that I tossed with some olive oil and garlic.
I also roasted some small beets which are the last thing I harvested from my summer garden! These were really sweet and delicious in the salad.
Besides those things, my salad was basically a large chunk of the produce section.
Green lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, scallions, radishes, avocado, cheddar cheese…
As you can see, I just added a few drizzles of dressing and it was more than enough to flavor the salad.
This was a delicious meal and left me FULL.
The dressing will obviously not last as long as store-bought ranch dressing because it doesn’t have any preservatives or anything in it. The tradeoff is that it has a lot more flavor, so you need to use less of it.
I think it will easily last 2 weeks in the fridge though.
Give this dressing a shot if you’re in a salad rut!