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Going for a quick run this morning left me no time for salad prep before my husband left for work. He wasn’t fazed — he fends for himself with ease. But not doing the prep for him meant I didn’t do it at all until it was lunchtime. Luckily, I had my mother-in-law over in the morning to work with my kids, so I wound up with more time to play in the kitchen while also being a lot more awake — I was making salad at 11:30 AM instead of before 8:00 AM. Inspired by a small jar of homemade bacon bits (leftover from the kids Carbonara lunch yesterday) I decided to try my hand, once again, at making a ranch dressing that I actually like.

Playing with Buttermilke Ranch Vinaigrette

Salad ingredients, gathered together and ready to prep.

Ingredients:
(Serves one for lunch.)
1/2 heart of romaine, chopped.
2 mushrooms, quartered.
1 carrot, sliced.
1/4 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced.
1/2 apple, quartered and sliced widthwise.
1/2 avocado, quartered and sliced.
1 scallions, sliced.
1/8 cup of crispy bacon, crumbled.

Buttermilk Ranch Vinaigrette, Take One:
(Use what you need, refrigerate any extra and use it within a few days.)
1 T rice wine vinegar.
2 T buttermilk.
2 T extra virgin olive oil.
1 small clove of garlic, smashed and minced.
1/2 tsp maple syrup.
1 generous pinch of salt, to taste.

I doubled the salad ingredients listed above and assembled them in two separate bowls, one for my mother-in-law, and one for me. I mixed up one batch of the dressing, since I like to go light with creamy dressings, and then I started chopping. It took a while, since I also had french toast and grilled cheese on the stove for the kids, but eventually both bowls were full of salad. I made sure to cut the avocado right before serving, so it would be lovely and green when we ate it.

Playing with Buttermilk Ranch Vinaigrette, Ceramic Bowl

Here is one of the finished salads, in a kidmade ceramic bowl.

The Verdict:
Not exactly ranch dressing, but damn tasty. It’s hard to go wrong with bacon and avocado. I wanted to mix arugula in as well, since I tend to like salads with a little more green in them and I only had one lonely heart of romaine left, but my arugula had gone slimy. Trader Joe’s is great for candied walnuts. Not so good for fresh produce. I think that was actually for the best though, since the romaine worked really well with the creamy dressing. Arugula would’ve been a bit too peppery and strong, I think. I loved the apple, bacon, avocado, carrots, mushrooms… Okay, I really liked everything about this salad. Strong flavors. Salty and sweet. Excellent crunch, with lush nibbles of avocado and that creamy dressing to smooth it out. Each bite was unique. Very fun, colorful, and delicious. My mother-in-law was appreciative, and I think she really adored the little crunchy bacon bits.

Playing with Buttermilk Ranch Vinaigrette, Glass Bowl

Here is the other salad, beautifully colorful in a simple glass bowl.

Make it a Meal:
Done. I would’ve happily tossed some chicken breast in if I’d had any on hand, but it was fine on it’s own.

Pack it to Go:
This one would work really well packed to go — just make sure you’ve got a jar large enough to hold the apple and the avocado in with the dressing. Brown apples and avocados are no good, and both will stay fresh in the acidic dressing. The avocado will create more thickness in the dressing, and you’ll have less chunks on the fork, but it will still taste delicious. If you really want the avocado chunky, half an avocado, still in the skin, travels relatively well. You’ll have the one brown side, which you can trim off or ignore, but the rest of it will be perfect. Of course, if you’re packing salads for two people who will be eating at the same time and place, you can leave the avocado untouched until you’re ready to eat, and cut it into the salad at that point. And if you’re a real avocado freak (yes, like me) you can just give yourself extra avocado. This salad has enough crunch to handle all that creaminess. Your skin and brain won’t mind the extra healthy fats, either.

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