18 July 2011

Recipe Delights from the Garden - Creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing and Fava Bean Dip

The kitchen garden is definitely coming into fruition and I couldn't be happier.  This weekend it delighted me with some sungold tomatoes, cukes, tomatillos, parsley, cilantro, two varieties of peppers, some fava beans, and some flat Italian-style green beans.  As we had decided to take a weekend off from the Bog Cabin to catch up a little (so much dust, so little interest, but it had to be done!), I spent time utilizing some of what I had harvested.

Last week in a post I mentioned a dressing I had enjoyed in a cafe while in Dallas.  Via a little Google detective work I found that it originated in a place called Cafe Rio, a Mexican Grill "quick-service" franchise mostly in the west.  I've been thinking about the flavor of that dressing almost non-stop.  The cilantro in the garden was at its best and we're big cilantro fans ...  also, a few tomatillos made the garden scene, so I had no choice but to put my spin on it!  The flavor is irresistible and it's versatility is right on!    And ... it's incredibly easy - what more could one want???

Here's the recipe:

Creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing 
One (4 ounce) packet buttermilk ranch salad dressing mix - I used Hidden Valley
 2 - 3 tomatillos - cut into quarters
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeno pepper
juice of one lime (about 2 T.) 
1.  Mix buttermilk dressing as directed on package. 
2.  Combine all other ingredients and mix in a blender until creamy and smooth.
3.  Seal in airtight container in refrigerator.  (make ahead - the flavor improves if the dressing sits a bit)

Great, natch, on salad greens, but also as a dip for fresh veggies, or even french fries.  I used it on a main dish summer salad with leftover london broil, some chicken, garden greens, fresh corn and cottage cheese - so, so good.  Definitely gotta try it as a dressing for potato salad.  Has officially been dubbed my new go-to dressing!

Then, there were Fava Beans, not plentiful at the moment, but enough for me to play with.  I was in the mood for a dip as I had some fresh, crusty New York style peasant bread perfect for slathering dip onto.  The recipes I found in a quick Google search were a lot like hummus, so I decided, instead, to construct my own out of ingredients I had in the frig.   Sorry, but I have no ingredient amounts but make it "to taste", and it'll be as you like it.  

I used lightly parboiled favas, cooled them, removed the pods, and put the beans in my mini-processor.  I then added green onion, goat cheese, a medley of herbs/greens (dill, basil, parsley, arugula), 1/2 jalapeno pepper, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, a little fresh lemon juice and a bit of olive oil to create a chunky style, fresh tasting, herby-ish dip - much to our liking, I might add.   Give it a whirl (no pun intended!)  - it's quite lovely!

Can't wait to see what's "ripe" in the garden tonight when I get home - I love summer cooking, fresh and simple!

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