Monday, September 23, 2013

How a Plumber and His Ranch Changed American Salads Forever!

In 1954, a man named Steve Henson bought a 120-acre ranch near Santa Barbara, California, which he named Hidden Valley Ranch. Yep, the same guy who created Ranch dressing! Steve, along with his wife Gayle, tried to create a successful dude ranch; however, with the remote location and meager advertising, the ranch was soon wreaking havoc on their bank account. But every cloud has a silver lining. After repeated requests by the guests to purchase his signature salad dressing, which he created in Alaska as a plumbing contractor to coax his burly workers to eat their greens, it became obvious that the money was in the dressing and not the ranch. Ranch dressing soon became the most popular dressing in America, perfect for buffalo chicken wings, dip for crudites, and basically a great way to get kids and adults alike to eat their greens!

In 1972, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing was sold to Clorox, who developed a "shelf stable" version, by adding additives and stuff you probably shouldn't be eating. According to some reports, the version sold today is a mediocre attempt at Henson's original. For the life of me, I don't understand why people buy salad dressings anyway? It is so much easier to whip up at home, tastes better, and you know what's in it! This is how I make my Ranch dressing, and not with sour cream or yogurt, but with buttermilk, just how Henson wanted it! It's the buttermilk that gives it a slight tang and makes it super delicious! Besides buttermilk is low in calories, has less fat than whole milk, sour cream, and most yogurts, is easily digested, great for those who are lactose intolerant, helps reduce heartburn and indigestion, and even provides relief for ulcer sufferers! What's not to love? So, go on and give it a try. I've never served it to anyone who didn't absolutely love it!

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Makes enough for 1 green salad


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk, or more to reach desired consistency
1 garlic glove, minced (see Techniques)
2 green onions or scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Optional additions, depending on what you feel like or have on hand: chopped chives, chopped dill, a dash or two of Tabasco sauce, a pinch of Paprika, chopped green chile, crumbled blue cheese


In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and buttermilk until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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