Food & Drink

Dairy-free ranch dressing is primed for summertime salads

Sunflower Ranch Dressing. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.
Sunflower Ranch Dressing. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post.

When salad season heats up, one thing keeps my kitchen humming: a good homemade dressing. Sure, I’ll throw together a makeshift vinaigrette here and there, combining the bits from almost-used jars of condiments with vinegar and oil. I also adore creamy dressings - green goddess, ranch and the like - that typically take a little more thought.

A traditional recipe for one of the latter is all well and good, but when I want an alternative to a mayonnaise or buttermilk base, I get creaminess by including nuts (cashews are classic) in the blend. Still, I hear often from readers who want nut substitutes because of allergies. That’s where Terry Hope Romero’s new salad cookbook comes to the rescue, particularly with a recipe for Sunflower Ranch Dressing. She has you soak raw sunflower seeds and blend them with nondairy milk and a handful of other ingredients - including a good dose of garlic and some fresh herbs.

The punch of garlicky flavor is at home anywhere a traditional ranch would be: Salad greens top the list, naturally, but drizzle or dollop this on any combination of vegetables - try it on baked potatoes, white or sweet - and you’ll be happy.

SUNFLOWER RANCH DRESSING

Active: 10 minutes | Total: 70 minutes

8 servings (about 1 cup)

MAKE AHEAD: You’ll need to soak the sunflower seeds for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight. For best flavor, the dressing can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.

NOTE: Use oat milk, coconut or hemp milk to keep this nut-free.

1/2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk, cashew milk or your favorite nut-free vegan milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 fat garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon dried onion flakes or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or mild olive oil

Water, as needed

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

Place the sunflower seeds in a medium bowl and add enough cool water to cover. Soak for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight (at room temperature).

Drain the sunflower seeds, discarding the liquid. Transfer them to a blender, adding the vegan milk, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, onion flakes or onion powder, salt and pepper. Puree until as smooth and creamy as possible, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender jar several times as needed.

With the motor running, drizzle in the oil a little at a time, processing until the mixture is smooth and emulsified. It will be fairly thick; if you want it thinner, pulse in a tablespoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Add the parsley and dill; pulse once or twice to incorporate.

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The dressing is ready to use, or you can transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 or 3 days.

Nutrition | Calories: 100; Total Fat: 10 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 140 mg; Carbohydrates: 3 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 2 g.

(Adapted from “Show Up for Salad,” by Terry Hope Romero. Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2019.)

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