Today’s post is all about Ranch seasoning. Laugh if you will, I love ranch, and it has all kinds of uses that you may not have thought of. I think it has the perfect balance of salty, garlicky and herby, and the flavors really bring out the best in vegetables, crackers, and a slew of other things. First, simply as an all-purpose seasoning, it really does a nice job. You do have to watch out for saltiness, though, since you will use much less, if any salt, when using the powder as a seasoning.
I also accidentally discovered that mixing ranch sour cream dip with hummus makes a very nice dip for raw vegetables. I have never really liked hummus as a dip for raw vegetables, (I mostly like hummus drenched in extra virgin olive oil on bread), but this is a nice balance between hummus and cream-based dips. (You know that if there’s a sensible option and a decadent option, I will mix the two together…)
There are loads of other ways to use ranch seasoning, but here are a few simple ones that I hope will help me spread the gospel of Ranch. The first is a recipe that my grandma Betty makes that I always requested every time I came over. They are oyster crackers with a ranch dill seasoning and they make a wonderful aperitif snack. They are crazy addictive, though! Next, I’ll share my take on one of my favorite salad dressings, which comes from a restaurant that I love in Chicago called Uncommon Ground. They have a smoky tomato ranch dressing that is simply fantastic. I have experimented with recreating it myself and will share my recipe below. Finally, ranch and cream cheese makes a lovely spread for crackers or to use on a sandwich. You might say that the more expensive, French version, of this is Boursin, but you can easily make your own “redneck” version by adding ranch seasoning to cream cheese. This is made even better with the addition of fresh black pepper, fresh herbs such as dill, chives or tarragon, and crushed garlic. As a variation, mixing in a mashed avocado also adds a richness and lovely green color. Ranch Dill Crackers
- 1 package of oyster crackers
- 1 packet of buttermilk ranch seasoning
- 1 tsp of dried dill
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Mix all the ingredients together, toss, and spread onto a cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Smoky Tomato Ranch Dressing (makes about 2 servings)
- 2 tbsp regular sour cream
- 1 tbsp regular mayo
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
- 3/4 tsp ranch seasoning
- 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
- 3/4 tsp sugar
- 2-3 heavy pinches of smoke salt (hickory salt, mesquite salt, etc. The intensity of smoke flavor will vary according to the type of salt used, so taste and adjust according to how much smoky flavor you want)
Whisk all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 min and then serve.
- 1 package whipped cream cheese
- 2 tsp ranch seasoning (or to taste)
- any fresh or dried herbs (dill, tarragon, chive, etc)
- pinch of black pepper
Blend cheese with ranch seasoning and any other additions. Return to cream cheese tub for storage if desired. Serve with crackers.