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Cooking

Recipes for ranch, blue cheese, and more buttermilk salad dressings

Creamy, tangy salad dressings start here.

Ranch dressing complements chunky summer-ripe salad fixings.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Ranch dressing complements chunky summer-ripe salad fixings.

Buttermilk salad dressings are cool, creamy, bright, and tangy. Add herbs and garlic to make Ranch Dressing — an American favorite — or blend in blue cheese, to which the buttermilk gives ballast and balance. Buttermilk plays a similar role for other strongly flavored ingredients, including roasted garlic and charred poblano peppers.

I like buttermilk dressings on chunky salads of chopped vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, and hearty lettuces including romaine, escarole, and iceberg or fresh spinach leaves. With any buttermilk dressing, give it a few minutes at room temperature to lose its chill before using it.

Ranch Dressing

Makes about 1¼ cups

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2/3 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 medium garlic cloves, grated to a paste

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh celery leaves

Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, chives, parsley, celery leaves, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve, or cover and refrigerate (keeps 3 or 4 days).

Blue Cheese Dressing

Makes about 1¼ cups

For super-smooth dressing, process the cheese, buttermilk, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor, then whisk in the remaining ingredients.

4 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1½ tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Salt and pepper

In a bowl, use a fork to crumble and mash the blue cheese. Add buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, chives, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve, or cover and refrigerate (keeps 3 or 4 days).

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP: If you like the flavor of celery, use the inner leaves as you would any fresh, leafy herb in lots of recipes (here, it flavors classic Ranch Dressing).

Tangy-Sweet Buttermilk Dressing With Shallot

Makes about 1¼ cups

This dressing is good over a platter of sliced tomato, cucumber, and red onion.

3 tablespoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, stir together the shallot and vinegar, and set aside for about 20 minutes. Whisk in buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, honey, chives, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve, or cover and refrigerate (keeps 3 or 4 days).

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Buttermilk Dressing

Makes about 1¼ cups

Adapted from The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook by Diane St. Clair.

1 head garlic, outermost papery skin removed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch cayenne pepper

2/3 cup buttermilk

Salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

With the rack in the center position, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice off the top ‚ of the garlic head to expose the tops of the cloves, place in a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with the oil, and cover with foil. Roast until fragrant and soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil cover and continue roasting until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of their skins and mash with a fork (you should have 2 generous tablespoons).

In a blender or food processor, process the garlic, Parmesan, cayenne, buttermilk, ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl, add the sour cream or yogurt and parsley, and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve, or cover and refrigerate (keeps 3 or 4 days).

Charred Poblano and Scallion Buttermilk Dressing

Makes about 1¼ cups

Taste a little piece of your prepped poblano before making the dressing and if you want a little more kick, add a bit of seeded, finely chopped serrano chili.

2 medium poblano peppers, charred, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about ½ cup)

¼ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts

2 medium garlic cloves, grated to a paste

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

2/3 cup buttermilk

Salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

In a blender or food processor, process the prepped poblanos, scallions, garlic, cumin, buttermilk, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl, add the sour cream or yogurt and mayonnaise, and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve, or cover and refrigerate (keeps 3 or 4 days).

Adam Ried appears regularly on America’s Test Kitchen. Send comments to cooking@globe.com.

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