Some food, some drink.
How to healthy-up a condiment and avoid suckage: Spicy Southwest Ranch Dip and Salad Dressing.
I am a huge advocate of using yogurt in toppings, dips and dressings when it makes sense to do so, and my take on Southwest-style ranch is a perfect candidate. Never mind that this recipe uses low-fat cultured dairy in lieu of all that lipid; full fat or not, this is the dip you want when your crudites are in need of that tangy, spicy kick!
Y'know sometimes you don't feel like reading; and for those times, you can watch the video companion episode to this recipe. Oh, and if you dig the video, likes are always appreciated!
So, I got a question - How many times have you gone out for casual dining and ordered something that came with [Spicy] Southwest Ranch? It always sounds great in theory, but but aways seems to exceed at mediocrity. That stuff from the restaurant never seems to be anything more than some sort of salad dressing that's been tinted pink; and I bet if you asked wait staff, they really couldn't even begin to tell you what's in it. I was tinkering with the base recipe that I use for vegetable dip the other day, and came across a seasoning combination that just happen to fit the profile for what I think a Southwest Ranch should taste like. Truth be told, the real revelation came after I bought a couple of boxes of "True Lemon" and "True Lime". Some of you might remember a discussion as to whether or not this stuff would be good for flavoring the white chocolate bits I put into my lemon cooler cookies (also seen at Tasty Kitchen); and since then, I've been looking for an excuse to look past the price tag and pick up a box or two to tinker with.
So I broke down the other day and picked up a box each of lemon and lime, and I've been trying them is just about everything. I've made spicy/Southwest-style dressings and dips before, but I gotta say that the addition of a little packet of powdered lime concentrate totally made the difference.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Whisk the spices,seasonings and cilantro into the cider vinegar and honey. Let rest for 15 minutes to allow it all to hydrate. Whisk in mayo and yogurt. Chill until ready to serve.
- Who the hell really likes to take the time to strain yogurt? If you make your own (like me), it just can't be helped; but if you're in need of a dip for that impromptu weekend cocktail party, you could pick up a tub of Greek yogurt and pretty much get the same results.
- In the same vein, if you chose not to strain, then you're gonna get more of a dressing than a dip, which depending on your intended application (salad vs. taco topper) might be exactly what you're looking for.
- Assuming that strained yogurt was at the ready, the difference between this dip coming together in 15 minutes and not 5 is the wait needed to hydrate the seasonings. Don't skip this step! Y'know how sometimes you make a dip and it tastes better the day after you make it? Well, hydrating the seasonings without the yogurt and mayo getting in the way accelerates that process; as it's all about surface area time with the liquids in the flavor base.
- I waffled back and forth as to whether I was gonna actually label this stuff as "spicy", as it's such a subjective thing outside of the taste-bud throttling insanity of fresh serranos, habaneros et al. If you need to mess with the heat, just adjust the cayenne, and/or add a squirt or two of Sriracha for good measure.
Y'know, I don't even think much about yogurt being a healthy replacement for sour cream, or even using it as a means to cut the fat of in mayonnaise. I use the yogurt because it affords me the flexibility to put the seasoning back where it belongs and to not rely on the fat as a crutch to build up something that otherwise skimps on bona fide flavor. A Southwest-style ranch should be creamy; and strained yogurt does that as well as sour cream. A good dip or dressing should also be tangy, and meager measures of sugar and acid in a flavor base accomplishes that much better than a mess of mayo.
This stuff takes a chicken wrap or a quesadilla to a whole new level; it almost always provides that bit of what's missing. Add a little grated Parm or Romano cheese, and you've got an impromptu dressing for grilled corn in the vein of elotes. My favorite application for this dip is to dress a chicken taco salad; but if you like to keep it simple, you couldn't find a better kicked-up counterpoint to raw carrots and cucumbers.