Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vegan Ranch Dressing and Dip


Somewhere outside of Santa Barbara, California, a couple, the Hensons, created the taste of the future.  It was the middle of the last century and their cozy little home recipe for salad dressing was receiving tremendous accolades.  Guests called it "Ranch" after the Henson's home and our taste buds haven't been the same since.

Unfortunately, once Clorox bought the recipe, all sorts of ingredients were added to the recipe to make is shelf stable (shelf stable: the two seemingly innocent words that have destroyed the American diet).  Nowadays, Ranch Dressing is all too often synonymous with junk food, with Cool Ranch Doritos at the helm.

Still, I love Ranch Dressing.  The Hensons were smart cookies!  The original recipe is made with plenty of dairy.  Here is my own recipe for a vegan version of Ranch Dressing with several variations.  

Vegan Ranch Dressing

1 c. almonds, cashews, or walnuts
1 t. dry dill, more if fresh
1 t. garlic powder
1 T. onion flakes
salt and pepper to taste
More water
a few drops tobasco sauce (optional)
1/2 t. oregano (optional)
1/2 t. parsley (optional)
If you don't care about being a vegan, you can add 1 t. Worcestershire sauce too.


If you have a Vitamix or similar blender, throw them in and just cover with water.  If you don't have such a blender, first -- my condolences.  Next, soak the nuts overnight, drain, and then throw them in your blender and cover with water.

Add all other ingredients (except extra water) to the blender.  Blend on high until smooth and creamy, adding small amounts at a time of water through the top of the blender until you reach the desired consistency.
Besides the usual dips and dressings, I use this as a base and add a lot of stuff to it as well.  I will add cucumbers and kale for a dip or artichoke hearts and spinach.  We also make it creamier without the optional ingredients, add cucumbers into the mix, and top our Indian food with it.

The kids eat plenty of vegetables dipped in this version of Ranch, a snack about which I can feel completely virtuous.  We also make it thick and use it like sour cream in vegan chili and on tacos.  Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly tacky, I will add it to our red pasta sauce to top our spaghetti. 

Enjoy.

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