Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lemony Buttermilk Dressing

What to do with that little bit of buttermilk left over? After using it to make some breakfast muesli scones (recipe coming up soon), I've only used half of the carton. I always buy buttermilk for a recipe with good intentions of actually using all the buttermilk. But each and everytime I have failed. Slowly day by day as I rummage through the fridge looking for other things, it gets pushed to the back and eventually I forget about it... until I find it a few weeks later to discover that its gone bad. So my buttermilk repertoire never expands.

This time it's different. I actually made an effort to use up the buttermilk. A lemony dressing kissed with delicate herbs and just a hint of garlic.
I've only ever used buttermilk in muffins, or waffles, and this time I'm glad I tried something different with it. It will now be a regular in my rotation of dressings to make this coming summer.

I kept eating spoonfuls of this dressing. It's so wonderfully tangy and fresh. The buttermilk and lemon pair so well with the cucumber and the faint anise flavor of the fennel really bring the salad together. I even just dipped cucumber spears into the dressing and ate it as is. This recipe makes quite a bit of dressing, with lots leftover for other imaginative uses for it. Spooning it over a spicy curry, using it as a sauce with poached salmon, or tossing in chunks of pineapple for a sweet and savory raita. (Minus the garlic). Well, you get the idea. Next time I'll try using it to dress a cous cous or farro salad since the starch will soak up the flavor.

Lemony Buttermilk Dressing
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

The buttermilk is really the star of the dressing. Since there are no egg yolks or emulsifiers, its not as thick as your usual dressing. I've added a bit of yogurt to give it a bit of thickness, but you can omit it.

1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 small garlic clove, peeled and halved
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2-4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp each of finely chopped chives, mint, and dill
salt and pepper to taste

1 fennel, thinly sliced
3 lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced

In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk, yogurt, garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice. If you like your dressing more tangy, add more lemon juice.

Whisk in the olive oil and finally the herbs. Season well with salt and pepper. Taste your dressing, if you like the amount of garlic flavour, remove it. Otherwise, keep it in a little longer. (Remove it before storing in the fridge).

In a large bowl, toss the fennel and cucumber with a generous amount of dressing and season to taste.

Keeps about 1 week in the fridge.

Note: After sitting overnight, the buttermilk dressing thickens up slightly.

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