Pesto Ranch Dip

I’ve written before about what a purist I am in the way that I make most everything from scratch. It doesn’t matter if it’s barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, salad dressings, you name it. I just can’t do it any other way.

Sure, a lot of those products are real time savers. But they’re also horrible. Or, should I say, that home-made is always better. Plus you don’t have to include the uneccssary salt, sugar, fake colors and preservatives.

During the summer months especially, I eat a salad every day. I typically use a good vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil on them – that’s it. Or, I use a vinaigrette that I’ve made ahead of time.

A few years ago, we were at a local restaurant with our daughter and son-in-law. I ordered a Cobb salad for my meal, and with it Ranch dressing. If you haven’t heard of Ranch dressing, then you’ve probably never lived in the U.S.

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My son-in-law kidded me about ordering such an “American” dressing. So I threatened him. Nicely. Something like, “If you tell anyone I ordered Ranch dressing I’ll have you killed.”

But to this day, at most restaurants, and for basic salads, I ask for Ranch dressing. I’ll tell you why. (And I still threaten folks if they tease me about it.)

1. Italian dressing, which is supposed to be oil and vinegar, is disgusting at restaurants. It’s not typically made in the restaurant kitchen. It’s a Kraft product, somewhat gloppy, overly sweet, with little unidentifiable bits in it.

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2. If you ask for oil and vinegar for your salad you will simply get stared at by nincompoop waiters.

3. If a “specialty” salad, say an Asian salad, is offered with a dressing, it is usually so disgustingly sweet that I can hardly eat the salad. I’ve learned that if the menu states “sweet chili lime dressing,” it basically means simple syrup. I wish I was kidding but I’m not.

So, that’s why I order Ranch dressing. At least I know what I’m getting. It’s not healthy, but it has its merits in the taste department.

Last week while grocery shopping, I happened to spot Ranch dressing. I quickly checked to see if I knew anyone near me, then I stuck the bottle of dressing under bags of produce. I actually purchased Ranch dressing for the first time in my life.

Flash forward to a recent impromptu evening with friends. I got out my usual hors d’oeuvres – cheeses, crackers and fruit.

Then I spotted a slab of bread cheese that I hadn’t needed for salad I’d made the week before and decided to grill the bread cheese at the last minute for a fun change.

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For a quick dip, I used freshly-made pesto, along with, yes, some Ranch dressing. The dip turned out so good I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what I did.

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Pesto Ranch Dip

2 heaping tablespoons prepared basil pesto
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup Ranch dressing
Olive oil
Approximately 10 ounces Halloumi or bread cheese, cut into 16 or so pieces
Fresh pepper

Place the pesto and lime juice in a small blender and process until smooth. Then add the Ranch dressing; set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Add the pieces of cheese and cook until browned on both sides. Place them on a serving platter and sprinkle them with pepper. Continue with the remaining pieces.

Pour the pesto ranch dip into a small bowl and serve with the warm cheese.

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Dip away!

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I realize that this isn’t much of a recipe, nor is it that creative, but this dip is so good with the bread cheese. See what you think!

And if you’re even more stubborn than I am, substitute sour cream, heavy cream, or creme fraiche for the Ranch dressing!

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By Published On: August 29th, 201644 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

44 Comments

  1. Loretta August 29, 2016 at 7:16 AM - Reply

    A nice quick dip served with those delicious looking bread cheese strips. We don’t add salad dressings in our salads either, just oil and vinegar, but every so often Ranch tastes real good with cup up strips of vegetables. Beautiful!

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 7:43 AM - Reply

      It is good. I used to say in my talks that if that is the only way to get kids to eat raw vegetables, than it’s not really terrible. But only if they try fresh first. Otherwise it becomes more about the dressing and less about the vegetables!

  2. sallybr August 29, 2016 at 7:56 AM - Reply

    I actually bought a bottle of Ranch dressing the other day because I’ve never had it (now you are shocked, aren’t you?) and heard that of all the store bought dressings is the best to get, especially if you are on a low carb kick or something. I am now very curious to try it

    I had to laugh at the “I’ll have you killed” ;-)

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      It’s mostly how I was raised. I think. I never had fast food of any kind until after college – I remember the year even – I went with someone who had kids and she drove through McDonalds. It was horrible. And my mother would even whip up some mayonnaise as necessary. So I do come by it honestly!

  3. Elaine @ foodbod August 29, 2016 at 8:04 AM - Reply

    I probably am even more stubborn than you and would add the alternatives!! Looks good x

  4. Jenny August 29, 2016 at 8:46 AM - Reply

    This looks really tasty! I have some pesto (homemade :) ) in the refrigerator right now, and I never thought of adding Ranch to it–I’ll have to give it a try!!

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 10:17 AM - Reply

      The combination worked well. I do think it would be just as good with sour cream…

  5. Gerlinde de Broekert August 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM - Reply

    Whenever I can I order the dressing on the side. I had some bottled salad dressing this weekend when staying with some friends and it was okay. Your dip looks great and I would eat a lot if it was in front of me.

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 10:16 AM - Reply

      I know what you mean. But I do love lots of vinaigrette on my salads, some people don’t, so it’s always so sad when it’s terrible!

  6. Linda Duffin August 29, 2016 at 9:45 AM - Reply

    It looks great, Mimi … but what IS Ranch Dressing? Have pity on a simple Brit and tell me what’s in it please. :)

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 10:16 AM - Reply

      It’s a creamy dressing with herbs. I’ll see if I can look it up.

      • Linda Duffin August 29, 2016 at 12:42 PM

        Ah, thanks. No, please don’t go to any trouble, that answers my question. :)

      • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 1:44 PM

        Ranch dressing is a type of salad dressing made of some combination of buttermilk, salt, garlic, onion, herbs, and spices, mixed into a sauce based on mayonnaise or another oil emulsion. This is from the company.

      • Linda Duffin August 30, 2016 at 3:40 AM

        Thank you! Now I want to make some … :)

  7. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch August 29, 2016 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    I wonder if you thought of making your own Ranch dressing? Because I love it and I live in the UK and Greece (where it is difficult to track down – in both countries), I have looked up any number of recipes. Generally, it is a mayonnaise-based dressing thinned with a little sour cream (or similar, such as crème fraîche), flavoured with garlic and herbs (different combinations from a list of herbs that include parsley, dill, tarragon, etc.). I have also seen some recipes that substitute some or all of the mayo with buttermilk to make a slim version. I’m sure you would find your home made version superior!

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 10:52 AM - Reply

      I’m positive that a home-made version would be better, and I’m wondering why I’ve never thought of seeking out a recipe. Probably because I stick with oil and vinegar. I’ve used avocado and also goat cheese for creaminess, but I need to think about buttermilk. A very wonderful suggestion!

  8. Our Growing Paynes August 29, 2016 at 2:53 PM - Reply

    Great way to “dress” up the dip! :) Scary how much sugar is hidden in all the processed food. To have the sweet thai chili dressing be pretty much simple syrup is scandalous.

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 5:16 PM - Reply

      It’s disgusting. I remember the first time I was served poppy seed dressing. Blecchhhhh.

      • Our Growing Paynes August 29, 2016 at 5:45 PM

        I hear you, and it’s so easy to whip up dressings!

  9. anotherfoodieblogger August 29, 2016 at 6:27 PM - Reply

    OK now that image of you sneaking the Ranch dressing into your basket just cracked me up! Hey, I always try to make sauces and such myself, but with how busy I am at work sometimes that’s just what I have to use if we want dinner at a reasonable hour. For a good store-bought Italian-type dressing that isn’t just gross like Kraft, you should see if you have Girard’s Champagne dressing at your store. I use it for marinades too besides salad.

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 6:34 PM - Reply

      It’s like I’m expecting the grocery police to check my cart. Good to know about this dressing, but I hope I never have to resort to it. I only say that because I’m retired and I have NO excuse not to make my own! But seriously, I’ll check it out!

  10. Michelle August 29, 2016 at 8:08 PM - Reply

    I still don’t like ranch dressing. But that’s really funny. :)

  11. gina@mytinytexaslife August 30, 2016 at 6:31 AM - Reply

    I am going to have to try that dressing. It sounds really good :)

    • chef mimi August 30, 2016 at 7:05 AM - Reply

      The dressing is good. I need to make it from scratch! But the dip is awesome!

  12. chezlerevefrancais August 30, 2016 at 12:20 PM - Reply

    Love halloumi and the dip looks great. I will be making it with…..yep, you’ve guessed it CREME FRAICHE!!

  13. Marisa's Italian Kitchen August 30, 2016 at 5:50 PM - Reply

    I’m not a fan of the Kraft Italian salad dressing either, I find it has a synthetic taste to it. The pesto ranch dip sounds just wonderful with raw veggies.

    • chef mimi August 30, 2016 at 5:52 PM - Reply

      And why is it so universally served?! The dip is good, but sour cream would work well too!

  14. Debra August 30, 2016 at 10:38 PM - Reply

    I couldn’t agree wit you more about dressings served in most salads. I almost always ask for it on the side, not just because of the calories, but because I try to get by with as little as possible rather than ruin the salad! I think that this pesto ranch dip sounds very tasty indeed! And the color is so appealing as well. :-)

  15. kitchenriffs August 31, 2016 at 9:23 AM - Reply

    I know what you mean about making your own. I usually make my own salad dressing, but when it comes to blue cheese dressing I as often as not buy it — just easier. and there are some great refrigerated ones in the produce dept. Anyway, good stuff — thanks.

    • chef mimi August 31, 2016 at 12:26 PM - Reply

      I’m not a huge blue cheese fan – I only eat the triple cream, spreadable variety. Just for the extra calories! Or I crumble it on. I think I got turned off from blue cheese dressing when I began eating salads at salad bars. That stuff was nasty!

  16. kmroehl August 31, 2016 at 12:03 PM - Reply

    Fried cheese is sooooo a win. And I never thought about combining pesto and ranch. Sounds delicious! And totally agree about so many restaurant salad dressings being disappointing.

    • chef mimi August 31, 2016 at 12:27 PM - Reply

      They’re so bad they ruin the salad. And why can’t oil and vinegar make a comeback? Real vinegar, in a clean decanter, and real olive oil that hasn’t gone rancid…

  17. Jerry Allen August 31, 2016 at 3:36 PM - Reply

    We used to make most of our salad dresings at the Peppermill. Buttermilk was a primary ingredient in the ranch.

    • chef mimi August 31, 2016 at 6:58 PM - Reply

      Thanks for following my blog Jerry! I just realized this was you!

  18. This made my mouth water! It looks really good!

  19. ChgoJohn September 5, 2016 at 10:23 PM - Reply

    As often as I make my own dressings, like John, I’ll buy blue cheese and – don’t repeat this — ranch dressings. It’s just preferable to watching a quart of buttermilk go bad in my fridge. Like the idea behind your dip, Mimi, and the fried cheese. YUM!

  20. chefceaser September 18, 2016 at 8:56 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

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