Back on the ranch: Reduced-fat dressings that pass the taste test

Do you know a recipe for natural-style, reduced-fat ranch dressing? The person I’m trying to find it for is allergic to most additives.

Thank heaven someone is still down on the ranch cookin’ from scratch. Yes, I have an easy recipe for you!

I was raised on bottle dressings; my mother filled the refrigerator door with a full supermarket selection of them. Since I became a chef, however, my preference is for homemade salad dressings or just plain oil (olive) and vinegar (red wine). Today, all the low-fat versions of classic dressings taste more like dessert syrup. (Why is it that food scientists always add corn syrup and salt if they take out the fat?) So, as usual, my advice is to cook from scratch, if you want to control the ingredients.

Back in the 50s, some cook in the Kraft kitchens came up with a great idea for using the buttermilk that is left over when butterfat is removed from milk, and ranch dressing was an instant hit. Mom had no trouble selling us salads, as long as it was saturated with ranch dressing.

Buttermilk is the bottom line ingredient for classic ranch dressing. Although buttermilk doesn’t sound low-fat, it actually is. With a buttermilk base, ranch dressing is an ideal salad topper for a healthful diet. Onion powder is another essential ingredient. Beyond that, recipes get creative.

Ranch Pepper Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise (or reduced-fat)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk or nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, parsley, pepper, onion powder and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to blend the flavors. Makes 3/4 cup; 6 servings.

PER 2 TABLESPOONS: 33 calories, 0.5 g. total fat, 0.3 g. saturated fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 270 mg sodium

What you have in your mind?