chopped vegetable salad with zesty ranch dressing

Just as I had hoped, summer is back. Two days of grey skies and rain is okay by me and it’s more than good for all the gardens and farms out there too. But I’m so happy to have back the sunshine and warm summer evenings. Ahhh, now it feels like July! And the perfect meal for those hot summer nights is a crunchy refreshing vegetable salad. I love chopped salads because they’re just so easy: chop the vegetables into bite-sized chunks, pour over some homemade dressing, et voilà, a fresh and tasty meal.

This time, I tried something different: ranch dressing. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of ranch…it’s too creamy and bland and I miss the tart pucker that only a vinaigrette provides. But then I saw a photo on Gluten-Free Girl’s blog and it made me want ranch dressing. Like really, really want ranch dressing. So I bought some buttermilk and got to work. I modified her version based on the ingredients that I already had and the results were deliciously wonderful. Yes, the ranch dressing was creamy but it had a good balance of flavour between the tang of the buttermilk, the bite of the lemon and all the earthy spices. This recipe makes a lot which is so perfect to have in the fridge when CSAs & farmer’s markets stuff your crisper with more vegetables than you know what to do with. When you’ve got a mason jar full of homemade dressing, it’s easy to whip up a quick salad to make use of your greens or snack on a platter of raw vegetables. And – if this is something you might be into – this ranch dressing doctored with a habanero hot sauce is just perfect for dipping your take-out pizza crusts into. You know, if you do that kind of thing.

Want more summer salad ideas? Let me dig deep into my archives…
Colourful chopped vegetable salad
Green bean quinoa salad
Marinated vegetable salad
Mixed bean salad
Raw vegetable salad with yogurt-feta dressing

Vegetable slaw with jalapeno-lime dressing

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31 comments to “chopped vegetable salad with zesty ranch dressing”

  1. 1
    Trish   July 12, 2009 at 1:34 am

    I love using buttermilk in salad dressing….did it give you that tart pucker you needed? Looks good on the salad you made.

  2. 2
    eatme_delicious   July 12, 2009 at 8:42 am

    All I want to eat right now are crunchy salads like this one! Sounds delicious. I miss dipping pizza crusts into dressing!

  3. 3
    Kali   July 12, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Ranch dressing is one of those things I have never cared for but always figured I could change my tune if I made the real deal. I'll give it a shot!

  4. 4
    Dana   July 12, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Rancy is my guilty pleasure. I eat it in restaurants and love every minute of it. I know I totally need to make my own. This is my kind of salad, lots of delicious crunchy stuff!

  5. 5
    Anonymous   July 13, 2009 at 6:44 am

    EinStud likes your recipe.

  6. 6
    CookiePie   July 13, 2009 at 7:47 am

    That looks sooo delicious! LOVE chopped salads, and love any kind of buttermilk dressing. Yum!

  7. 7
    Ellen   July 13, 2009 at 9:32 am

    That sounds perfect for this weather! I love buttermilk in most anything so will give this a shot.

  8. 8
    maija   July 13, 2009 at 10:10 am

    That dressing sounds great. I've really gotten into using buttermilk in cooking in the last 6 months or so. It's also excellent for baked goods & mashed potatoes.

    I made a similar dressing for a potato salad recently that was buttermilk/mayo/fresh basil & chives. Plus, I made the potato salad with a mix of white & sweet potatoes & fresh green beans & peas. Yum – I love that tang.

  9. 9
    Arlene   July 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I made a chopped salad with anything "chop-able" from our CSA box. This ranch dressing is delicious with a fresh zip rather than the cloying heaviness of the bottled variety.
    I will be making it again soon!

  10. 10
    Cookie baker Lynn   July 13, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Mmm, that does look like a perfect summer dinner. I'm a ranch fan, so I'm thrilled to have a good recipe. Thanks!

  11. 11
    Susan from Food Blogga   July 13, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I can't remember the last time I had some good ranch dressing. I'm sooo craving it now!

  12. 12
    kickpleat   July 13, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Trish, it wasn't pucker-inducing, but I did like the tang….and it was super flavourful! I loved this dressing and will make it again.

    eatme, crunchy salads are the best! and so is dipping pizza crusts :)

    Make it yourself, Kali, then you can make it work with your tastes!

    Dana, make it yourself, it's sooo good!

    Thanks einstud! haha.

    Yes, I agree, CookiePie! Yum.

    Ellen, I'm sure you'll love this dressing. It's a good one.

    Maija, I'll have to try it in mashed potatoes!

    Arlene, so glad you loved it!

    Lynn, it's perfect for summer and this recipe is pretty wonderful!

    Susan, I understand those cravings. Make it and be happy :)

  13. 13
    Bellini Valli   July 14, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Perfect for these hot summer days:D

  14. 14
    Bijoux   July 14, 2009 at 5:40 am

    mmm creamy goodness! I too, prefer the tang of vinegar on my salad and normally opt for vinegrettes but I also enjoy a creamy dressing every once in a while…home made versions far surpass any bottled dressing out there, in my opinion.

  15. 15
    Rosiecat   July 14, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Is it weird that I think chopped salads sound romantic? Everything so lovingly diced into bite-sized pieces and then dressed to the nines with deliciousness? Okay, yes, it is weird! But your salad sounds amazing–a perfect no-cook meal with some bread and maybe a brownie for dessert. Yum.

  16. 16
    stephchows   July 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

    That salad screams summer! Love it!

  17. 17
    Miss Kate   July 14, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I'm a ranch girl myself, from the Ranch Belt Midwest. This particular ranch recipe looks extra appetizing!

  18. 18
    hag   July 14, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    OOh this sounds so good and easy! Perfect for a BBQ…or as a side dish for something meaty! Yea! thanks.

  19. 19
    paul crik   July 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I lived for a while in the northwest where they poured ranch dressing over EVERYTHING. I thought I'd had all I could take, till now. Thanks for opening up my eyes with this delicious post!

  20. 20
    Delectable Swank   July 14, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    this looks so yummy, especially in the heat of July! I've never tried to make my own ranch dressing before. I think I will try this over the weekend!

  21. 21
    radish   July 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

    this looks fabulous and so refreshing for the summer. i've never made ranch dressing but i think once i move, i'm going to give it a whirl…

  22. 22
    Lo   July 15, 2009 at 8:41 am

    We do too few chopped salads around our house, I think. Gotta keep this concept in mind!

  23. 23
    Ellen :|: CheapCooking.com   July 15, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I made this dressing tonight and it was great tasting, but a bit runny. I suspect my lemons are gigantic, but I liked the tartness/tanginess. Modified the salad a bit to include some lettuce and red cabbage because that's what I had. Oh, and I used Hungarian paprika. Is Spanish paprika much different? Regardless, this dressing was soooooo good! Thanks.

  24. 24
    anne   July 17, 2009 at 9:39 am

    wow, that looks fantastic! I will be making that tonight for sure, love the blog! anniebakes.blogspot.com

  25. 25
    kjkessler   July 17, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I've already made two batches of this salad in the last week, my husband and I are loving it! I cheated a bit on the dressing and bought a premade jalepeno ranch that I doctor up with some chipotle hot sauce. It is fantastic!

  26. 26
    kickpleat   July 17, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Bellini, it totally is!

    Bijoux, I couldn't agree more. I was really surprised at how much I loved this dressing. You should try it!

    Rosiecat, weird, but I get it :)

    Stephchows, it does. It's perfect summer fare.

    Thanks Miss Kate, glad a mid-westerner approves!

    Thanks Hag, it is an idea side dish…for roast chicken!

    Enjoy Paul, it's a good one.

    Swank, I hope you do. It's way better than bottled. For sure.

    Radish, I don't even your move, but the dishwasher alone is worth it. I'm jealous.

    Thanks Lo!

    Ellen, spanish paprika is smoked so it lends a lovely smokey flavour to everything. It comes in sweet or hot versions and I used sweet here. Perhaps you did add in too much lemon juice…can't recall the size of mine, but I did just use 1/2 a lemon (maybe you added a whole one?)

    Thanks Anne!

    kjkessler so glad you & your husband enjoyed this salad. You really should give the dressing a try…so tasty!!

  27. 27
    tanvi @ now craving   July 19, 2009 at 10:53 am

    What a wonderful way to get me to eat my veggies!

  28. 28
    kickpleat   July 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks Tanvi!

  29. 29
    liz r.   July 25, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I've tried several of your recipes now, and I wanted to come on and say thanks! My husband and I enjoyed this for dinner tonight. The dressing is so good I wanted to slurp it down by itself!

    I've made your soup with israeli couscous and veggies many times now–what a fabulous lunch dish.

  30. 30
    kickpleat   July 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Liz, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know! So glad you enjoyed this and my other recipes :)

  31. 31
    Estella dream*   August 10, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Love your blog.

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