Notice that the title is Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dressing with Etc, Etc, Etc…

Buttermilk Dressing

Farmhand Salad with Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dressing

That’s because if I had my way I would just slather this dressing all over the salad until nothing was visible but creamy tangy milky goodness. What can I say – I’m the daughter of a farmer who used to drink homemade buttermilk straight from the jar!

This salad was the first course for a lunch I cooked at Pie Ranch for the SF based company Good Eggs. If you’re living in the Bay Area and you’re not taking advantage of Good Eggs, by all means check ’em out! They have an online Farmer’s Market that allows you to shop local farms and artisanal products and have it all delivered to you.

When I cook at Pie Ranch all ingredients are of course grown/raised onsite which includes the milk products. If you happen to be traveling the beautiful coastal highway over the weekends you can stop in and buy veggies and pie and pastries. The pastries are made by a local bakery using flour grown and milled onsite. Here’s Pie Ranch’s Yelp page with the address so you can bookmark it on your next journey to Santa Cruz. They also have barn dances once a month that are a lot of fun…

Little Gem Salad with Buttermilk

Little Gem Salad with Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dressing

I always figure on 1 little gem lettuce head per person and I use one per plate allowing the bigger darker leaves to be the bottom of the rosette and the inner brighter leaves to mound on top. Colorful radish and nasturtium petals dot the greens with sprays of peppery watercress and a sprinkling of chives. A crack of black pepper over the top is a must.

The recipe below gives instruction on how to make buttermilk and mayonnaise from scratch. Of course you can just go buy it instead. But both are simple to make by hand…


Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dressing


  • For Buttermilk:
  • 1 cup whole milk or cream (I prefer cream)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
  • For Mayonnaise (you can use 1/2 cup store bought):
  • 1 egg yolk (farm egg preferably)
  • 1 cup canola oil or grapeseed oil (yes, you can use olive too if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste and extra lemon juice or white wine vinegar to taste
  • For Dressing:
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worscestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1/2 bunch chives, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbled

You can skip the making of buttermilk and mayonnaise if you prefer although they are both very easy to whip up...

For homemade buttermilk: simply stir the lemon juice or white vinegar into the whole milk or cream and allow to sit for 5 minutes until it curdles. I prefer cream – but then again I drink cream the way most people drink milk.

For the mayonnaise: in a nonreactive mixing bowl add the egg yolk (make sure it is at room temp or your mayo will break) and whisk/stir in mustard and lemon juice. You can use white wine vinegar for the lemon juice if you prefer. It's necessary to mix the mustard and a little vinegar first to loosen up the egg yolk (and there is a scientific reason that I won't bore you with)  if you don't your mayo will probably break.

In a steady slow drizzle pour in the oil whisking all the while. The mixture will immediately start to thicken and turn lighter in color. One egg yolk can actually take about 4 cups of oil so if you feel like making a larger batch of mayo go for it. If the mayo gets too stiff to whisk add a little more vinegar (or water, if you feel the flavor is where you want it). Adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar.

For the dressing: whisk the mayo and buttermilk together and add all the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and freshly cracked black better. Refrigerate. Allow flavors to come together for at least two hours. I always think this dressing tastes better the next day...