july 10, 2015
This year I have an abundance of fresh herbs, a yield so plentiful that I am giddy with the possibility of adding them to nearly everything I cook. Lately I have been on a thick and creamy salad dressing kick, or craving thick and chunky like the tomato basil white wine vinaigrette on The Good Eats Company menu. When you have tasted homemade creamy herbed salad dressing, you will never again stroll the grocery aisle for something gloppy with fillers and false flavors.
This creamy herbed dressing is a good fridge keeper (up to a month if you use a clean spoon each time you enjoy) and tasty on vegetable salads, fruits, grilled meats and seafood and as a dipper for crusty grilled bread. Confession here : when restaurant salads arrive with dressing on the side, I am secretly happy kitchen staff has not performed the toss for me, so I can daintily dunk the salad bits into the little bucket of dressing, coating as much or as little as I please. I like to dip the end of a romaine lettuce leaf into Lemon Caper Caesar Dressing, creating a deconstructed salad with croutons and anchovies on the side. This lovely green hued dressing with herbs from your garden and the tang of buttermilk would also be a good topper on wedges of ice cold watermelon or cantaloupe, like the spicy tahini sauce for last month’s post.
Here’s the beauty of this dressing : nearly any herb combination will make a fabulous blend (but I would stay clear of strong woody stem herbs like rosemary or sage) and lots of parsley makes for a more vivid green. Perhaps like me you have a plethora of parsley and never enough basil for pesto. This salad dressing will help you give a good shave to the parsley plant, and encourage more exuberant growth. Save your lovely basil for pesto.
Full fat buttermilk gives the best texture, and good quality vinegar will make a world of difference. Culinary school taught me that white vinegar is made in a lab and best for cleaning. Spend a little more and use pure apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s for example), or, if you really want a vinegar that tastes great even by itself, invest in something made from wine industry products, bringing the idea of recycle-reuse-repurpose home in a big way. I like everything made by Virginia Vinegar Works, and use their vinegars for the Sunday Suppers at Little House Green Grocery. The company’s nectarine vinegar is nirvana in a bottle and it’s tempting to pour yourself a flute of this golden elixir.
Your best friend in the kitchen, at least for making creamy salad dressings, is the stick blender, also called an immersion blender. Seriously, this dressing is made by adding everything to the beaker attachment of the hand blender and blending in a few short bursts and that’s that. Simple is always best, especially when it’s humid and hot and you can’t fathom the idea of creating with heat.
Each time you make this dressing there will be bold, new flavors from the combination of herbs used. Almost like having grocery aisle variety in your own kitchen.
Herbed Buttermilk Dressing
makes about 1 ¼ cup
one cup loosely packed fresh herbs, coarsely chopped*
½ cup buttermilk, preferably full fat
⅓ cup best quality mayonnaise ( I like Hellmann’s canola, or Spectrum)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or good quality apple cider vinegar)
2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
one medium garlic clove, zested or finely minced
¼ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
pinch of fine sea salt
* the flavor of rosemary or sage can be overpowering in this dressing, so I generally use lots of parsley, then basil, tarragon, thyme and oregano
- In beaker attachment of immersion blender, combine all ingredients and blend until creamy.
- Alternately, add ingredients to small bowl of food processor and blend, stopping to scrape sides as needed.
- Best flavor develops overnight, but dressing may be used immediately after making.
- Store dressing in refrigerator for up to one month, using clean spoon for portion removal.