Monday, September 3, 2012

Basic Savory Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Paleo Ranch Dressing / Dip

Dips "sell" packed lunches - especially for kids. Strips of leftover steak or baby carrots become that much more compelling when there's a savory dip around.

Since my two and a half year old has been dairy free for a few months - and by extension, so have I as the nursing mother - I've had to become a lot more diligent in learning to make classically paleo dips and dressings. My old stand-by was mixing full fat sour cream with seasonings. Now, though, I've been making a lot of practice batches of dips and dressings using a good old fashioned paleo mayo base. Credit goes to Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make the Girl for introducing me to the world of making one's own mayo - her recipe is a great one, and she has some links to delicious-looking tuna salads to make with it!

I've learned, too, that spending just 15 minutes to make a batch of homemade dressing or dip can yield a week's worth of dip - for the price of 1 egg and 1 cup of a healthy oil of choice, plus seasonings. The versatility comes when you experiment with added paleo condiments and seasonings to alter the taste profile and consistency of your basic mayo base.

This edition is a basic ranch dressing. The beauty is that it is very easily adaptable - you can remove the vinegar to keep it thick and ultra-dippy (like sour cream), or keep the chili powder and hot sauce out if you're serving it to someone who is averse to spiciness (though this recipe is hardly spicy...perhaps better described as "zesty"). The flavor of the dressing deepens overnight in the fridge, so keep that in mind as you add your seasonings - a batch that tastes just a little underseasoned while you're making it may be just right by tomorrow morning.

I've tried to base this recipe in ingredients that nearly anyone has in their kitchen at any time, but there are plenty of less common extra possibilities for fun additions to mix up the flavor, like fish sauce (for savory), curry paste (for tasty heat), or tamari and/or coconut aminos (more savory). As always, carefully read your ingredient lists on your condiments and seasonings to make sure that they fit your dietary requirements.

Basic Savory Ranch Dressing
Makes 1.5 cups

  • 1 egg (room temperature, so that it emulsifies properly - use the best quality eggs you can source for your money)
  • 1 cup oil of choice  - some good neutral taste choices are avocado oil, macadamia oil, a good quality light tasting olive oil (avoid oil blends with canola or soy added), or (less neutral) slightly warm just-melted coconut oil - either way the oil should also be very close to room temperature
  • 2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper (I used ground white)
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar of choice (read ingredient labels; raw organic apple cider vinegar is a great choice)
  • 1.5 tsp. Tabasco or paleo-friendly hot sauce of choice
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 1 tsp. plain yellow mustard (read your ingredient labels!)
Also, you will need a clean glass jar with lid that can hold at least 12 ounces.


First, you will make the mayo base.*

Crack open your room temperature egg into the bowl and turn your appliance onto medium speed - enough to whip the egg. Once the egg is uniform, turn the appliance onto high speed and very slowly drizzle your oil into the bowl. If you're doing it the right way, it will take a few minutes to drizzle your cup of oil into your bowl - using a narrow necked bottle or pitcher may make it even easier to keep your drizzle steady and slow.

Once you have achieved a nice, thick mayo base, add in your condiments and seasonings with your appliance at medium speed. If you want to be conservative, add a little of each at a time to suit your tastes. Chili powder and Tabasco should be added last, since they have the most potential to amp up the zestiness of the flavor profile. Some kids (and grownups) like zesty; some don't. Customize yours!

Store in an airtight glass jar in the fridge and consume within a few days.


*There are four kitchen appliance options to consider when making your mayo base. You can use:
  • One hand to hold a mixer while the other drizzles oil (tiring, very! I've done it), or 
  • A hearty blender, or 
  • A stand mixer, or 
  • A food processor with a lid that has a top with an opening.
In my experience, the stand mixer is the easiest option, but my food processor is a close second for ease and produces the thickest mayo base because it whips at even higher speeds than my stand mixer. Either way, your appliance will need to be prepared to run on full speed for at least 5 minutes...sometimes closer to 10, so chose one that is up to your task.


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  1. I love your blog! The idea of "primal" eating is amazing! I wish I could go that extreme however I don't think I could do it but its very inspiring!! You should think about getting an instagram if you happen to have the iphone! Mine is clean_healhy_food !!

  2. I have had excellent results using an immersion blender to make mayo. I have all my ingredients at room temp, plus, I let everything set in the jar (standard mason jar) for about 5 minutes (so everything is the same temp). I then put my immersion blender in, holding it at the bottom, and let 'er rip. I just let it spin until I see the mayo start to form, then I start the up/down process until all the oil is incorporated, it takes about 3 to 5 minutes. An extra bonus is that the mayo is made in a jar, no transferring.
    Great recipe!


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