Ranch Dressing & Dip (Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free)Tilth : Creating Fertile Ground for Good Health : tilthforhealth.com
I’ve been thinking a good bit about what recipes to create for this blog. Readers have so far requested recipes for coconut milk yogurt, donuts, and the Americanized Chinese classic Orange Sesame Chicken. The temptation is to largely work on things I’ve really missed or things that have confounded or intimidated me for one reason or another. High on my list are some version of dairy-free, soy-free, cane-sugar-free Nutella and a savory pie crust.
Until yesterday, Ranch dressing was on my list of confounding items. I adored Ranch when I was a kid; I considered it the primary way to make salads and gross cafeteria pizza palatable. Even when my appreciation of vegetables heightened, I still liked Ranch dip for raw veggies at parties. Even today, I must admit, I would like the option of occasionally having Ranch on my pizza . . . basic pizza, not fancy pizza.
Ranch is typically made with a base of buttermilk, mayonnaise, and/or sour cream or yogurt. After learning I could no longer eat, well, any of those things, when I had a hankering for Ranch (usually after seeing it on someone’s salad), I had pondered whether avocados might make an acceptable base. But after a disastrous attempt at making an avocado-based Thousand Island Dressing, I didn’t even try it with Ranch. What else might work? I considered coconut milk yogurt (too sweet) and hemp milk (not thick enough or tangy enough). And then I went about my life and tucked thoughts about Ranch dressing into the back of my mind again.
But yesterday, as Ranch tickled my brain again, I thought, “Something that thickens a sauce and can be made tangy. . . .” And then the answer popped into my head: cashews! We often eat raw cashew ‘cheese’ that is tangy and delicious. Surely, I thought, the raw food movement has already got Ranch dressing covered.
And they have; there seems to be lots of reposts of one particular recipe. I took that recipe, ran with it, adjusted by taste, and got . . .
–Well, I think I got Ranch dressing. When I tasted it, I thought, “Yes, that tastes like my memories of Ranch!” Then I realized it’s been three years since I have tasted Ranch dressing, and I wondered if I still have the taste down. I asked my husband to try it, and he said, “That tastes like a creamy, rich, savory dressing.” “But does it taste like Ranch?” I asked. It turns out he had never eaten Ranch dressing. In the South, that might qualify as a crime. (For the record, he thinks it’s disgusting I want it on my pizza, and he would never do such an abominable thing.)
So I can’t tell you absolutely, 100% sure, but I am pretty sure this is Ranch, y’all. Next time, for a salad, I think I would either cut the cashews by 1/2 cup or thin it with a bit more hemp milk before serving. And for the record, I think avocado in lieu of cashews might actually work as a base, too, with the other oil and the vinegar and lemon juice and seasonings added. So if you can’t tolerate cashews, try using an avocado or two instead.
And if you try this recipe, please report back whether it tastes like your memories of Ranch.
Altered from a recipe that originated from Snowdrop on Raw Freedom Community
Soak time: 2 hours
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
3/4 cup cashews
2 dates, pitted
1/3-1/2 cup water from cashews for blending
2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chickpea miso (optional, for tanginess and probiotic properties)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional–I wanted a hint of a smoky flavor)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Add after pureeing:
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup hemp milk, as needed
Pour very hot water over the cashews and dates. Allow them to soak for two hours.
Using a high-powered blender or a food processor, process all ingredients except for the last three till creamy and smooth. Stir in the parsley and chives. Refrigerate; the sauce will thicken, and the flavors will meld. Thin with hemp milk before serving, as desired. Keeps in refrigerator, tightly covered, about four days.