Homemade Ranch Dressing

Makes 2 cups

This ranch-style dressing has a little more zing and robust flavor than the bottled versions. And it’s delicious with so many other foods beyond salad: chicken wings, fried onion rings, veggies...

I truly think that once you have all of the seasonings on hand (I keep a zip-lock bag loaded with smaller containers of the thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, marjoram and ground celery seed) you will decide that there’s no reason to go back to bottled ranch dressing when this is so much better.

1 cup mayonnaise

¾ cup sour cream

½ cup low-fat buttermilk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1½ teaspoons lemon pepper

1¼ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

¾ teaspoon dried thyme

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

¾ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon ground celery seed

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, lemon pepper, salt, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, marjoram, sugar and ground celery seed. Adjust seasonings. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

And just in case you’re wondering, my own “house salad” at the Dream is deep-fried bacon, fresh tomato, red onion and gorgonzola with a dressing blend of Ranch and the house Italian. Totally awesome!

Classic Louis Dressing

Makes about 1½ cups

Think robust Thousand Island dressing. I love to serve this with a layer of small pink Pacific shrimp over a bed of salad greens, cucumber slices and chopped celery. Divine! Also great on a wedge of iceberg or butter lettuce, along with a poached egg.

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup chili sauce (it's like ketchup, only spicier)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped green or red sweet bell pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1 hard-cooked egg, finely chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce and lemon juice. Add the peppers, onion, parsley, cayenne, Worcestershire, horseradish and chopped egg. Blend this mixture thoroughly and then taste to determine if it needs additional chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce or horseradish. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If the dressing seems a bit thick, you can stir in additional lemon juice, or even a splash of cream. 

Wedge Salad with Soft Poached Egg and Green Goddess Dressing

Makes 6 servings (with LOTS of leftover dressing)

From the author: The wedge salad is an American classic and steakhouse staple. I’ve updated the dish by dressing it with an herby green goddess dressing and by adding a poached egg to make the salad more substantial. Make sure you serve this salad with steak knives so guests can easily cut through the wedge.

You should also know that this recipe makes a ton of dressing. You’ll want to hang on to the leftovers because it only gets better with time. And it makes a great dipping sauce for fried chicken, grilled chicken, and home fries.

3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

6 large eggs

3 medium heads butter lettuce, halved

Green Goddess Dressing (recipe follows)

Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley

Prepare a wide casserole dish or bowl by filling with cold water and a few ice cubes (to cool down the poached eggs)

To poach the eggs: In a deep, wide skillet, combine the vinegar with enough water to come at least 3-inches up the side of the pan. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat until you have a gentle simmer. Gently crack the eggs into the simmering water, leaving plenty of space around each one. Don’t worry that the whites will be a bit ragged. Gently cook for about 3 minutes to achieve a poached egg that has a firm white but runny yolk, or continue cooking another minute or two, depending on how runny/firm you want the yolks.

Remove the poached eggs one at a time with a slotted spoon and gently place them in the prepared dish of ice water until ready to serve.

To assemble the salads, spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of the dressing onto each of six plates and place a lettuce wedge, cut-side up on top of the dressing. Spoon an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dressing on top of the lettuce on each plate. (Reserve the remaining dressing for another use. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the dressing will keep for up to a week.)

Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs from the chilled water, patting them dry with a paper towel and placing on top of the lettuce wedges. Lightly drizzle each egg with olive oil then sprinkle with the salt, pepper and parsley.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING: In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine 2 large egg yolks, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of freshly-squeezed orange juice, 1½ tablespoons freshly lemon juice, and 1½ tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice. Process until smooth.

With the motor running, slowly add 1 cup of vegetable oil to create an emulsion. Raise the speed to medium-high, add 1 cup of loosely packed Italian parsley and 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon and blend until combined. With the motor running, slowly add an additional 1 cup of vegetable oil. Add ¼ of an avocado and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice, if needed.

Finally, add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and blend one last time, then transfer the dressing to a container. Refrigerate when not in use.

Source: Recipe from “Heartlandia, Heritage Recipes from Portland’s The Country Cat,” by Adam and Jackie Sappington, with Ashley Gartland.

Chopped Salad with Corn Vinaigrette and Frico Cheese Crisps

Makes 4 servings

Sweet corn with a subtle vinaigrette adds texture and taste to a salad of assertive greens. Frico is a northern Italian cracker served as a snack. Montasio vecchio is a traditional Italian cow’s milk cheese and has a mild flavor like Swiss, but with more texture like Asiago, an Italian hard cheese. Of course, you could also opt for a good quality Parmisiano- Reggiano.

2 tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

½ cup fresh corn kernals (about 1 medium ear of corn)

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1 medium lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 pinch chopped fresh oregano

2 cups grated Montasio vecchio or Parmisiano-Reggiano

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 cups mixed salad greens (arugula, radicchio, and frisee should be in the mix), washed and well dried, then roughly chopped

1 cup julienned hard salami (about ¼ pound)

1 cup chopped provolone (about ¼ pound)

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the corn and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool, then season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, the lemon juice, chives, and oregano. Set aside.

To make the frico, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sprinkle one thin layer of cheese (about 4 inches in diameter) in the skillet, and cook for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Alternatively, sprinkle the cheese in a thin, even layer on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 1 minute, or until golden brown.

Using a spatula, carefully slide the cooked frico onto a paper towel to absorb any grease and to crisp up. Repeat until all the cheese is used. Once cool and hard, break each frico into medium-sized pieces. The frico can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container.

To assemble the salad, in a bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar with the ¼ cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the salad greens, salami, and provolone to the corn ixture, then pour the dressing on top and toss with two large spoons or salad tossers to combine. To serve, portion the salad among 4 plates and serve with the frico pieces on the side.

Source: Recipe adapted from “Harvest to Heat, Cooking with America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans,” by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer.

Papa Haydn’s West Composed Salad of Mesquite Broiled Chicken, Gruyere & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Makes 4 entree salads, or 6 first-course salads

In Portland, Oregon, at the 23rd street location of Papa Haydn, back in the late 1980s, I enjoyed a salad created by then-lunch chef Deborah Loftus. It featured a wonderful melange of sun dried tomatoes, fine-quality ham, chunks of mesquite-grilled chicken, capers and grated Gruyere. There was nothing unique about the bed of greens beneath this flavorful combination, but the mixture is so exotic, you really don’t have to go all out on the greens.

3 chicken breast halves

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

4 ounces Black Forest ham Julienne-cut to measure 1 cup

1½ cups grated Gruyere cheese

1 sweet red bell pepper, roasted and peeled as directed below, then diced

½ cup sun dried tomatoes (reserve oil for dressing), diced

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Mixed greens (romaine lettuce, combined with some green leaf lettuce), broken into bite-sized pieces

Pesto Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

Coat the chicken breasts with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken over mesquite coals; chill until cool enough to handle.

Dice the chicken breasts into 3/8- to ½-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cut-up chicken, ham, 1 cup of the cheese, bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes and capers. Toss with enough of the vinaigrette to make sure all ingredients are well coasted; chill for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Mixture can be made up to 3 hours ahead.

When ready to serve, arrange greens on individual plates. Distribute the chicken mixture evenly among the salads, arranging it attractively on top of the bed of greens; garnish with a sprinkling of the remaining ½-cup of Gruyere. The Pesto Mayonnaise may be served on the side (in individual ramekins), or you can place a dollop of it on each serving and pass the rest.

VINAIGRETTE: In small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, freshly ground black pepper (to taste) and several dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Blend well with wire whisk. Continue whisking as you add ½ cup of olive oil. (Be sure and incorporate the olive oil that was packed with the sundried tomatoes; the flavor is wonderful, and blends beautifully with the salad.) Adjust seasonings. Can be made up to 2 or 3 days ahead, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. Makes about 2/3 cup.

PESTO MAYONNAISE: This basil-flavored dressing is 4 parts mayonnaise to 1 part pesto. For this recipe, combine ½ cup fine-quality mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons pesto. Commercially prepared pesto is fine; to make a small batch at home: Combine 1 cup of packed basil leaves in blender jar with 2 cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley; chop fine. Add 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and ¼ teaspoon salt; blend. With machine running, slowly add ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil and blend until it forms a smooth paste.

TO ROAST SWEET RED BELL PEPPER: Cut a slit in the pepper to allow steam to escape. If you have a gas burner, then you can skewer the pepper and roast it over the flame burner, turning it frequently until it is evenly blistered and darkly scorched. Or, place pepper on a cookie sheet and broil under the upper heating element, turning as the surface blisters and darkens. Place the roasted pepper in a plastic bag and chill in the freezer for up to 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove from freezer; peel, then slice open the pepper, remove the seeds and dice.

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