So, I was listening to the podcast version of The Splendid Table, which is the long-running National Public Radio (NPR) food show. There was an episode called Second life for faded food: reducing food waste with chef Abra Berens that, honestly, I found disappointing, as I think most Permies would have. Pay attention to your produce, eat it or store it before it goes off, a few easy things you can cook with things that are right on the edge of losing their freshness. I mean, really? Maybe this is all new to the Lexus-driving Whole Foods shopper, but going to the root cellar and bringing back the worst carrots first, then washing and cutting off the black bits was literally my chores before I got out of the first grade. So I didn't find it very earth shattering.
There was, however, a half-paragraph that plucked at my ears:
This is another thing I love; we call it trashy ranch in our house. It’s equal parts pickle juice from the jar as after you've eaten all the pickles and mayonnaise. Shake it up into a really nice dressing. It's like Super Tangy. You can do it with sauerkraut juice. You could do a Kimchi juice. Anything that's like really acidic in that way.
I love proper ranch dressing, but my chosen way of eating excludes most processed foods and added oils. Ranch dressing is both; and it's most often made with low quality oils that taste rancid to me right out of the bottle after a few years of not buying/eating them. So I don't buy it and I haven't troubled myself to make a high-quality homemade substitute; if I did that, I'd have it on hand by the quart, and I'd eat it by the quart, and I don't need to be eating quarts of greasy condiments.
For various reasons, however, I do keep on hand and consume small amounts of mayonnaise. It's a departure from my overall food scheme, but a very minor one.
So I tried the "Trashy Ranch" -- and I like it! Mostly because I can put a couple of teaspoons of mayo and a teaspoon of pickle juice in a little pyrex / glass prep bowl and whisk them together when I just need a tablespoon of condiment to dip, like, one fresh garden carrot and a sliced up cucumber in. It's portion controlled -- keeps me from eating six ounces of greasy goodness at a sitting, which is important for an old binge-eater from way back like me -- and salty and acidic and satisfying and indulgent in that necessary way we discussed in the thread about sometimes not wanting to eat the food that you grow.
It's also a lot more strongly-flavored (more acidic, saltier) than true ranch dressing, which means that a smaller amount goes a lot further toward satisfying various cravings. At least for me.
I'm not saying one damn thing about it being actually healthy, of course. These are mostly salt/vinegar brines I'm using -- the juice from commercial pickles, green olives, and capers. Sodium, oh my! And depending on the pickled products, maybe even a few ugly preservatives to boot. (Hopefully not much!) If you're making your own fermented stuff, you might have delicious sour brines full of probiotic excellence to work with.
I did work out one "improvement" on the Trashy Ranch "recipe" from Splendid Table. What happened was, I kept messing up! And splashing a tiny bit too much pickle juice into my prep bowl. So when I whisked up my trashy ranch, it was too runny, and dripped off my dipping veggies.
Well, that wouldn't do. I tried a couple of things, but what worked best was whisking in a teaspoonful of the dreaded nutritional yeast -- I used powder, but flake would probably work just as well. I am in the camp of plant-based eating people who thinks "nooch" (I hate that diminutive, but it's all over the cooking web) does in fact give foods a sort of cheesy flavor, though I admit this is probably just because I don't get very much "real" cheesy flavors (and I miss them).
So when my Trashy Ranch is too runny, I mix in just a smidge of nutritional yeast, and that not only thickens it up to a nice ranch dressing consistency, it turns it into what I call "Cheezy Trashy Ranch" -- hence the subject line of this post.
I use leftover pickle juice to "washout" salad dressing or mayo jars. You know, to get out that last little bit. I save these jars in the fridge until I want to make potato salad. This mayo/pickle juice concoction is my secret ingredient for making great tasting potato salad.
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I do love this! Thank you!! Fred has mentioned his mom rinsing out condiment bottles with vinegar or other things when making dressings or sauces, but I hadn't thought to make a Ranch dressing this simply. Or to rinse and save things for later.
You guys are awesome!!
I'm with Dan about the icky, rancid oils in bottled salad dressings. Making them fresh is so easy and quick, though I hadn't thought it could be THIS quick!
I'm a stickler about the mayo I buy for the household here. No soy oil. No canola oil. I'd prefer coconut and avocado oils only, but I can't seem to find the vegan one that was coconut and avo oils, so for the vegans in the house, the mayo is safflower oil. We used to make our own safflower oil mayo before the coconut and avocado oil mayo become available because we could find organic safflower oil, but we couldn't find organic safflower oil mayo.
Any way, unless you're purchasing Primal Kitchens brand salad dressings, most all bottled salad dressing also has soy or canola oils in them. IMHO big yuck. Consumers are wising up and the options are expanding a bit, though it's still far less waste, and I think even tastier, to make at home! Super easy!!
It might be nice to add some minced onions and a few herbs to this Trashy Ranch dressing. I know that's not nearly as simple, though I'm sharing just in case someone might like to level up a bit. Here's my completely off-the-cuff Ranch dressing. I made this up a little while back. If you don't use or have the yogurt, you can make it with full mayo and it works that way too. When we have vegan yogurt (rare for us to have) we've made a nice vegan version, too.
Jocelyn's ranch dressing
(Ranch dressing is traditionally made with buttermilk, mayo and/or sour cream, though this version seems to work well.)
ALL AMOUNTS ARE ESTIMATES - ADJUST TO TASTE.
2 c. plain, unsweetened yogurt
2 c. mayo
¼ c. minced (diced very small) onion
2 T. apple cider vinegar (or pickle juice!!) 3-4 cloves crushed/minced garlic
1-2 T. no salt seasoning (the stuff from Costco)
add the following to taste:
chives - fresh if you have them
Mix all ingredients. Better if left to sit for an hour or more before serving.
If you have leftover bits of onion, leftover relish, and/or leftover tablespoon or two of ketchup, then I highly recommend making your own Thousand Island Dressing. We make this one (you might need to click to see the full recipe on that website) without the sugar (there's sugar in ketchup already!!!) all. the. time. If we have vegan mayo, we make it with that so then everyone is happy to use it.
From this thread, I hope to be more aware of using up or rinsing out jars to make this stuff. That is just so freaking brilliant.
Dan Boone wrote:
I'm not saying one damn thing about it being actually healthy, of course. These are mostly salt/vinegar brines I'm using -- the juice from commercial pickles, green olives, and capers. Sodium, oh my!
In speaking with a nutritionist about sodium, (and a nutritionist who is almost OCD about having properly done studies to back up what she says), it's not the quantity of sodium that is problematic, it's whether the sodium is balanced with potassium. Most veggies have lots of potassium.
Additionally, if you sweat a lot or in a lot of heat, you need more sodium.
So, IMHO, active people who eat a lot of veggies, can have a LOT of salt! :-)
this past weekend I made deviled eggs. I'm dealing with some stomach issues and am on High Nutrition Alert, so instead of the usual mayo, I mashed the egg yolks with pickle brine (til the desired texture was reached), chopped red onion, and dill. I meant to add chopped pickles too but was lazy. The deviled eggs were EPIC, especially topped with Old Bay. No oil in the whole production.
(i imagine that you could use some off those egg yolks to make a salad dressing as well, just playing with quantities and maybe adding water so it doesn't get too salty)
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