desperation ranch (dressing.)

It’s the 98th Friday of quarantine, people: welcome to it. At this point, it’s a real effort to not eat cheese popcorn for breakfast, not gonna lie. I’ve resisted thus far, but my comfort-food-to-healthy-food ratios are, shall we say, off.

I nearly used this leftover buttermilk to make pancakes – mind you, it was left over from pancakes, so that was my first red flag that I could do better. Plus, at last glance, my freezer was half filled with 5 half-loves of bread, and – you guessed it – more pancakes. So!

I made this buttermilk ranch dressing, using only things that I had on hand, and it’s really delicious, so I’m sharing. Jenn Silverberg and I shot (safely, at a distance, with masks, in a sterile studio) our June columns for Feast, and tomatoes were on the agenda in a big way. It’ll be a few weeks before the magazine prints, but in the meantime, I’ve been inundated with tomatoes at the house that I refuse to let go to waste. I know – it’s a tough problem to have, but I’m managing.

Tomatoes need nothing but a little salt, but I have two favorite things to do with them that never get old. First thing? Piling them high on toast slathered with mayonnaise. I love it so much, it’s become a frequent breakfast for me here, because it feels healthy enough to counteract the carbs from my inch-thick slab of toast. Second? Douse them in fresh buttermilk dressing. Not the gloopy bottled sort either: I mean fresh-fresh, from your mixing bowl ranch dressing.

If you’re thinking there’s no way you can make this right now, you’re wrong: everything in this recipe pretty much uses up things you most likely purchased already, because they’re basics that are good to have around right now. Buttermilk? always good for biscuits, adding to dips, pancakes, etc: buttermilk makes our list every other week, and I use every drop of it. Beyond that, it’s garlic (a must), dried dill (which is excellent to have on hand, because it hydrates so well), lemon or lime juice (either one! truly, and whatever amount you need to thin it and give it some zing), and some scallion greens in for where I’d normally add chives. If you’ve got some chives in your garden right now, by all means, use them: they’re awesome in here. Same goes for fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, etc: you make it your own, but there’s not a single fresh herb in this jar, and honestly, you’d never know it.

If you’re like me and need something enticing to make your daily vegetable intake happen, look no further: this is it. A little goes a long way, and keeping it on the thin side (the way I like it, and the way this recipe is written) will give you a pow of flavor without all the heft.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Yield | 1 pint |

  • 2/3 cup fresh buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp scallion greens or chives, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill (or use 1 Tbsp or so of fresh fronds, chopped)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • a dash or so of tabasco sauce or hot sauce

| Preparation | Whisk buttermilk, yogurt, and mayonnaise together in a small bowl until smooth and combined. Whisk in garlic, scallions, dill, salt and pepper until incorporated, then add citrus juice to thin – add more or less to suit your individual tastes. Add in tabasco or hot sauce if using, check for seasoning, and serve.

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  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook April 24, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    I’ve been meaning to get over here and say welcome back but somehow time is beginning to have no meaning! This ranch dressing does though and since I have leftover buttermilk in the fridge and chives in the garden I just may actually make this! Take care and glad you are staying well!

  • Reply elizabeth May 3, 2020 at 9:38 am

    I think everyone’s healthy-to-comfort food ratio is off right now, and that’s OK! This is a pretty unprecedented time, so I think it’s important to do whatever we can to feel normal. I’m impressed that you keep buttermilk around, but if you make pancakes with any frequency I totally see why you would. (We really only get it when we’re making fried chicken and/or biscuits, so it’s seldom in our fridge by comparison.) This dressing does look good, though, and I’ll keep this in mind for the next time we are making fried chicken and/or biscuits and want a way to use up more of our buttermilk.

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