Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homemade Ranch Dressing & A Very Delish Salad

With the exception of eggs, I prefer to eat salads above almost any other  food. I love huge salads with tons of veggies and often order them when I go out to eat. I consider myself a salad aficionado. One of the absolute best salads I've ever eaten is from one of our favorite local restaurants, No Frill Grill. It's called The Spotswood Salad (since the restaurant is located on Spotswood Avenue, pretty clever) and is loaded with so much vegetable goodness: baby spinach, mushrooms, radishes, sprouts, tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, and onions. Then they take the salad to a new level and top it with crumbled bleu cheese, raisins, and candied pecans. It's heaven on a plate for salad lovers like me. 

I decided to model my own salad after this incredibly delicious salad and then came across this recipe for homemade buttermilk ranch dressing on Pioneer Woman's  Tasty Kitchen site. The results are the best salad ever! :) Okay, maybe not the best salad ever, but a very very delish salad. If you have never made ranch dressing, you just have to! My husband and I wanted to eat every little drop up and we did in about 24 hours! It's inspired me to try making my own dressings because store bought doesn't even compare!

Let's start with the Ranch Dressing, because you'll want to make it first and let the ingredients marry overnight. The key is to use fresh herbs!

Homemade Ranch Dressing
From The Pioneer Woman
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/4 cups fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cups sour cream (I didn't have any on hand so used plain yogurt)
Buttermilk  (as needed to desired consistency) *I used about 1 tablespoon
White vinegar (to taste) *Again, I used about 1 tablespoon
Worcestershire sauce (optional, to taste) *I used about 1/2 tablespoon
Cayenne Pepper (optional, to taste - I omitted)
Fresh dill (to taste) *I used a couple teaspoons since we love fresh dill
Paprika (optional, to taste) *I used a couple shakes
Fresh oregano (to taste) *I didn't have any fresh on hand so omitted
Tabasco (optional, to taste) *I used just a couple dashes

Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of salt on it. Mash it into a paste with fork. Chop the parsley, chives, and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.
In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, then thin with the buttermilk if desired.

Ashley's Delish Salad
2 chicken breasts, marinated in garlic and teriyaki sauce for several hours
Clover sprouts
Cucumber, peeled and sliced
Baby carrots, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced 
Green onions, chopped with only white and light green pieces
1 Avocado, sliced
1/2 cup pecans, toasted in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes (keep an eye on them!)
Crumbled bleu cheese
Grill the chicken and slice into long strips. Combine all salad ingredients together. Place chicken on top of veggies. Top with pecans and bleu cheese. Drizzle the homemade ranch dressing on top. Chow down on this extremely lovely salad.


  1. Ashley, love that you are loving to cook. Thanks for the supper ides for later this week! i will let you know how it goes. Sounds like you and my husband need to get together and cook sometime. he is the best cook I know. :)

    Joan Kellermann

  2. Oh my....I've been dying to make PW's Ranch Dressing!!! You did a fabulous job breaking down the recipe - and giving me the encouragement to make it ASAP!



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