Wednesday, August 12, 2009

So Damn Lazy Dinner (Fresh Cucumber Ranch Dressing)

Ah, the joys of high summer. The garden is giving you baskets upon baskets of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers. The farmers markets offer variety seldom found at the grocery store—wax beans, French Breakfast radishes and Ichiban eggplant.

Every year, I either overplant or overbuy summer vegetables…and then there they are, sitting in my fridge, impatiently waiting for me to get on the ball already and prepare them for the dinner plate. I always have good intentions, but then the inevitable happens; plans change, kids divert my energy, and suddenly it’s 6 p.m. and I have no cohesive dinner plan whatsoever. On top of that, it’s hot as hell outside and the thought of turning on the stove is, well, unthinkable.

That, my friends, is where crudités begin to make their appearances at the family dinner table. Screw the pork tenderloin. Screw the pilaf. Just a fresh baguette and a catch-all platter of all the vegetables that need to get eaten pronto….Oh, and a giant glass of chilled Reisling, if you please.

A freshly made dip, like this Cucumber Ranch dressing, comes together fast and makes you feel like you actually made dinner. (The recipe comes from the August 2005 issue of Martha Stewart Living.)

Cucumber Ranch Dressing

(NOTE: I used low-fat sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise to shave off some calories...Still rich, but refreshing.)

1 medium cucumber (peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and grated on the large hole of a box grater)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped shallot
¾ cup sour cream
¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 ½ Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 ¼ Teaspoons salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Season with additional salt or cayenne, if desired. Dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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