Kefir Ranch – A Ferment for Your Christmas Salad
Have you ever heard the rule that there should be no salad on a holiday table? Lots of smart, knowledgable foodie types have written this and I get where they’re coming from. The table is loaded with SO many other delightful things, including plenty of roughage in the form of roasted veggies galore, casseroles and perhaps a crudité platter, and salad doesn’t always keep well in the back of the fridge. Still, there’s nothing like some crisp, lettuce green on the table, and the crunch of a fresh veggie goes a long way towards making those richer foods taste amazing (or, in a more gluttonous scenario, cleansing one’s palate for the next round). Sometimes, I’ll make a gorgeous, shave brussels sprout salad with toasted hazlenuts, or my very favorite, decadent kale salad. Of course there are other times when I just like to keep it simple with a regular ol’ salad with chopped cukes and carrots, lettuce, avocado, bells peppers, herbs and a few sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Because it’s the holidays and I never want the family to feel like I’m serving anything too healthy, I like to whip up a batch of something that will secretly aid their digestion and make them feel great: kefir ranch.
Long before I was making my own miso and vinegar, I was making my own salad dressing. It never really seemed logical to me to pay cash money for a bottle full of gums and additives when olive oil and lemon juice with a little salt and pepper dressed my lettuce up so well. My husband is the master dressing maker. He can clean the scraps out of the vegetable drawer and make something delectable. The only problem is he changes it every time, so you never know what you’re going to get. I, on the other hand, have a few dressing habits. A bulb of roasted garlic, blended with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, hot pepper flakes and salt. Avocado, salt, vinegar. And then there’s ranch. Several years ago, when I was living in Southern California, I discovered the beauty of homemade ranch dressing while dining at Native Foods Cafe. I liked their version so much I bought the cookbook (they also have a kickass tempeh pate recipe for those of you who love that particular ferment). Years later when I became fermentation-obsessed, I adapted it into a kefir-based recipe rather than a mayo-based recipe.
Inspired by The Native Foods Cookbook
You can definitely use store bought kefir for this, but homemade is always best. You can find my basic kefir how-to here. If you’d like to make this as a dip rather than a dressing, using kefir sour cream or crème fraîche instead of the kefir will definitely do the trick!
- 1 cup kefir
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 tablespoon mayo (homemade is best) or veganaise
- 2 cloves roasted garlic, crushed into a paste with a fork
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 packed tablespoons finely chopped, fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped, fresh chives
- 1/4 cup milk for thinning (optional)
- Mix together first six ingredients until spices are dissolved and mayo and garlic paste are smoothed in. You can do this in a food processor if you choose.
- Mix in lemon juice
- Stir in chopped herbs until well-distributed
- If you find the texture too thick, mix in some milk to thin it out (alternative milks are fine, as long as they don’t have a very strong flavor).
- I store mine in a cruet so that it can be easily shaken up. Keeps great for a week.