Years ago, while eating lunch at a restaurant with my older daughter and her husband, my son-in-law nearly fainted when I ordered ranch dressing for my salad. Knowing my snobbiness towards what I would call “American” foods, like Velveeta, he “threatened” kiddingly that he was going to “tell people!”
Yes, I ordered ranch dressing for a basic side salad; I knew what I was getting because we’d been to this restaurant. The other options were bottled dressings much worse than ranch.
However, if ranch is home-made, just like other dressings and vinaigrettes, it can be pretty wonderful.
This herbed ranch recipe comes from Emily and Matt Hyland, who own a pizzeria, called Emily, in Brooklyn, New York, with a new location in West Village; both restaurants feature wood-burning ovens. These are the young owners:
Emily, the pizzeria, was one of the first to serve ranch dressing… with their pizzas. Their ranch, called Ranch Dressing With Fresh Herbs, is in their cookbook, Emily, published in 2018.
The original Emily ranch recipe was adapted by Julia Moskin, and published online at The New York Times. Julia states that “Ranch dressing and pizza are still a controversial combination, but chef Matt Hyland’s dressing is uncontroversially delicious.”
A good ranch dressing like this one is especially wonderful on a classic wedge salad so that’s what I made.
Herbed Ranch Dressing
Yield: About 1 1/3 cups
¼ cup chilled buttermilk, more as needed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup store-bought mayonnaise
Salt, to taste
In a blender, process the buttermilk, garlic, pepper, chives and parsley together until the herbs are minced and the mixture turns pale green. Add the mayonnaise and process just until smooth. If desired, thin with additional buttermilk to get the consistency you want.
I used a product I’ve fallen in love with – garlic in chili oil. I don’t have to peel garlic, and I like the zing the chili oil offers.
Taste and add salt if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.
For the wedge salad, cut an iceberg lettuce into four quarters, after doing any necessary leaf trimming. Place the quarters upright on a plate. Add some dressing, and leave it on the platter for those who want more. Then add sliced tomatoes, chopped purple onion, and bacon bits.
I added Italian dried sofrito, for fun. You could always add coarsely ground black pepper and cayenne pepper flakes.
I personally don’t think wedge salads need cheese. At American restaurants, however, bleu cheese is common, as well as bleu cheese dressing instead of ranch. Each to her own.
To me, if the ingredients are high quality, even if it’s just a salad dressing., chances are that the recipe will turn out well. What I don’t like are ingredients like powdered garlic and onion, and fake dried herbs. Use real ingredients, people!