Dipping Into the Ranch

By on June 1, 2012

By Jennifer Cote –

Picnic Plans for summer are already in the works. There are many great occasions for gathering together, and many great reasons to make a batch of homemade Ranch Dip! When friends have showers or special birthday parties, they might ask if I could bring a veggie tray; I don’t know if they are whole-heartedly embracing the thought of fresh, healthy veggies as much as they might be craving some of that yummy Ranch Dip.

Those of us who are used to using whole ingredients can really appreciate the natural flavors that come out when recipes are made from scratch. There are no hidden valleys (I mean, ingredients), no extra chemicals and artificial flavorings trying to imitate the real thing. Why not just use the real thing?!

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

I’ve been reading up on “authenticity” lately, and a simple recipe reminds me of it again: There are counterfeits. There are “Christians” who forget to be who God designed them to be. There are those who want the quick version of their faith: A pat on the back from God for going to church on Sunday, without bothering to listen to Him through the week, when He might be prompting one to a deeper walk.

There is no shortcut to a deeper walk; in order to take that walk with the Lord, we may have to follow Him through some painful situations, some bristling work of the Spirit that refines us in the process.

But back to the recipe: This month I’ve included some tips for how to prepare some of the veggies for a beautiful tray. Yes, it will be quicker to stop by the grocery store and buy a ready-made tray. Yes, it’ll probably have those dry-looking baby carrots and blue-grey broccoli pieces. But if you can find the time, it will be a bit more exciting to bring something you can’t just pick up at the store. Something a bit more… authentic!

Ranch Dip w/ Veggie Tray

The Veggie Tray with Ranch Dip is a healthy recipe to serve at parties. For extra color, hollow out a red cabbage to serve the dip in. The leftover cabbage can be sliced up and mixed with any leftover Ranch Dip for a great side dish the next day. The recipe below makes enough to serve a large crowd (50 or more), with plenty of veggies on the side. Or use it in salads; it will keep weeks in the refrigerator. Makes 1 quart.


  • 2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 pt. sour cream
  • 1 TBS. dill weed
  • 1 TBS. rubbed Italian herbs
  • 1/2 TBS. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 TBS. “VegeSal” (found at health food stores)
  • 2 TBS. sugar
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • Green leaf lettuce (to line veggie tray)
  • 2 lb. or so Carrots (approx. 6 large)
  • 1 lb. or so Broccoli Crowns
  • 1-2 Cucumbers
  • 1 lb. or so red peppers (approx. 3 large)
  • 1 red cabbage for holding the dressing

Mix the following in a bowl: > 2 c. mayonnaise > 1 pt. sour cream > 1 TBS. dill weed > 1 TBS. rubbed Italian herbs > ½ TBS. black pepper > 1 ½ TBS. “VegeSal” (found at health food stores) > 2 TBS. sugar > ¼ c. lemon juice

To assemble veggie tray, line a platter with some green-leaf lettuce (or ornamental kale). Set the hollowed-out cabbage in the center, filling with the dip just before serving, if transporting the tray. Arrange the following veggies on the platter. The broccoli looks especially appetizing added last, nestled around the edge of the cabbage-dip-bowl. Use the following:

> Carrots: Peel, slice, and add to a jar, with a splash of white vinegar and salt. Shake thoroughly, drain. You can prep the carrots the day before, draining the vinegar mix off and refrigerating until ready to assemble. This process really brings out the color.

>Broccoli: Rub the tops in a bit of olive oil. Again, this brings out the color, tastes great, and is easier than blanching them. Also, they won’t have that “dry” look.

>Cucumbers: Score lengthwise with tines of a fork; cut into ¼” thick slices.

>Red peppers and any other favorite veggies: Cut into strips, to add color to the tray.



Jennifer Cote, with husband Tom, opened The New Deli Cafe in Pinole, CA back in 1985. Her cookbook,From the Land of Milk and Honey“, is available at the shop and online. Recipes and more (including video tutorials) can be found at jennifercote.org. Comments, questions? Email Jennifer at [email protected].


About Jennifer Cote

Jennifer's love of cooking with natural ingredients is inspired by the organic garden she's cultivated for over 25 years. A cutting garden provides flowers for The New Deli Cafe, an herb garden lends herbs for culinary creations, and twenty-some fruit and nut trees are scattered throughout her fairly urban back yard. New Deli compost keeps the garden flourishing, as Jen and her family carry on the family business, established in 1985. A blessed grandmother, mother, and wife, Jen gets much joy from sharing recipes (and perhaps an occasional basket of figs or platter of home-baked goodies).

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Dipping Into the Ranch