Chopped Salad with Homemade Ranch or Italian Dressing

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The chopped salad concept came from my friend Kristy, who eats it for dinner almost every night. She made it for me a couple of times while I recovered from my  surgery. She always includes hard boiled eggs, which mix with the dressing and make it nice and creamy. This salad is so good that you can eat it for a meal and actually feel satisfied.  It’s kind of funny, but salad tastes better when it’s all chopped up. Seriously, you should try it and see what I mean.

Kristy uses a wide variety of vegetables depending on what’s in season. For example, in the winter, she uses purple and green cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, radishes, peppers, olives, pepitas, carrots and onions. She also makes her own salad dressing using herbs that she dries and grinds, mixed with olive oil, vinegar and a little mustard. Such a fresh, tasty, healthy and hearty idea for a meal.

Now a little note on salad dressings…I don’t like store-bought, due to all the additives. But, if I’m in a pinch, I’ll use Trader Joe’s dressings. They taste good and are made with pure ingredients. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working on my own Ranch Dressing recipe.   My son Billy uses Ranch for everything…baked potatoes, fries, scrambled eggs, sandwiches, salad – you name it. Every time I test a new batch of Ranch dressing, he gives it a thumbs down.  He did tell me that this recipe (below) is just about there…however, Hidden Valley will always be his first choice, even though I refuse to buy it.  I know, I’m such a mean mom!

I also enjoy the old Good Season’s Italian dressing. Remember this brand? You buy their packages in a kit with a bottle and lid…measure out the red wine vinegar, water and oil, add the spices and you have dressing. However, the packets can be pricy and do contain: Sugar, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Garlic, Onion, Spice, Red Bell Peppers, Carrots, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin  (from Corn), Parsley Flakes, Natural Flavors, Guar Gum, Citric Acid.  So I did a little research and found a “copy cat” recipe online. For both of these dressings, I make a few batches of the mix in advance and store it in a mason jar. Then when I’m ready, I add the wet ingredients and in minutes we have a fresh, healthy dressing!


Chopped Salad
This recipe is pretty simple. Just chop up whatever veggies you enjoy or have on hand. Add a little lettuce and you’ve got a chopped salad! If you want this salad to be even more delicious, top with my Garlic Parmesan Croutons. Veggie ideas for the chopped salad:

  • cucumbers
  • radishes
  • red cabbage
  • green cabbage
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • green onions
  • purple onion
  • carrots
  • green bell pepper
  • cheese (feta, parmesan, cheddar etc.)
  • dried cranberries
  • tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • tuna fish
  • cottage cheese
  • beets
  • croutons
  • avocado
  • corn
  • peas
  • hard boiled eggs
  • celery
  • beets
  • turkey, ham or chicken
  • berries or apples, chopped
  • nuts (pepitas, sunflower seeds etc)
  • beans (garbanzo, kidney, black)
  • red, yellow or orange peppers
  • parsley
  • jicama

Liz’s Ranch Dressing
Dry Ingredients

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp dried green onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 sprinkles red pepper

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or milk

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add mayonnaise, sour cream and buttermilk. Stir until combined; add more buttermilk or milk to attain the consistency you like.

Liz Notes: I use 1/2 cup light sour cream and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. I also use 1% milk to keep it light and it still tastes creamy and good. You may also substitute fresh garlic, parsley and green onion for the dried. Use 1 garlic clove, 2 T fresh parsley and 2 T fresh green onion, chopped. Naturally, fresh is best! My daughter, Jennie, also likes to use cottage cheese in this dressing, which makes it more creamy and hearty. Substitute 1/2 cup cottage cheese for 1/2 cup sour cream and enjoy a thicker dressing which can also double as a dip!

Make-Ahead Mix

To make the dry mix, combine the following:

  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 8 tsp dried parsley
  • 8 tsp dried green onion
  • 6 tsp sugar
  • 8 sprinkles red pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a small glass jar and shake to combine. To make the dressing, simply combine the wet ingredients (listed above) and 1 T of the dry mix.

Italian Dressing*

  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 T white sugar
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme

In a small bowl, mix together all of the spices. Store in a tightly sealed container. To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 2 T water, 1/3 cup oil and 2 T of the dry mix. Shake to combine and serve. So delicious with no crazy additives.

*Note:  This dressing is an adaptation of a Good Seasons knock-off found on



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