Across the creek from my house is a neighborhood called Hidden Valley.
The first time I drove through, I noticed a property nestled behind a row of mesquite trees. There was a large hand painted sign in front with a picture of a chicken on it that read, Hidden Valley Ranch.
I wondered if it was the Hidden Valley of ranch dressing fame. Thanks to Wikipedia I found out it was an imposter! (The real one is in California). So when I came up with my version of the dressing, it seemed fitting to call it “Bear Canyon Ranch”, since my neighborhood across the creek is called Bear Canyon, my dressing is also an impostor, and so it turns out, is ranch dressing as we know it.
I did some more research and realized that the bottled ranch dressing that everyone eats isn’t even what I would consider real food, and the powdered version isn’t far removed. They are both comprised of a lot of stuff that I’m sure the folks at the real Hidden Valley Ranch never even imagined.
None the less I like it, so with this information in mind I figured that it should be easy to create a healthier version.I decided that the secret to making ranch dressing doesn’t really have as much to do with the taste as with sight and texture (thicker for dip, thinner for salad dressing), and the sprinkling of green colored herbs mixed with the slight tang of buttermilk. It also contains a lot of MSG which contributes the taste of umami to the mix. Which, I was surprised to discover is also experienced when we eat Parmesan cheese. A little MSG is actually not bad for you.
When later I walked up to the checkout line at my local Safeway with a pile of ingredients for my experiments, the checkout lady told me that her kids insist on putting Ranch on everything. “They don’t even use ketchup on french fries anymore,” she exclaimed. “It’s Ranch.” “Gosh,” I thought. “Think of how many calories I could save America with just one recipe.”
I started with my old standby non-fat Greek yogurt, as well as buttermilk which is naturally low in fat. To that I added chives along with onion flakes, a clove of garlic, Parmesan cheese and the rest of the things mentioned below. Everything really started to taste pretty good! Success! No only for myself but for all Americans. Maybe even the world.
- ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ - ¾ cup low-fat buttermilk use more for dressing, less for dip
- 2 tablespoons fresh dried chives chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley chopped fine
- 1 clove of garlic chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes or 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon MSG optional
- dash or two Franks or Crystal hot sauce